Novel Human Cytomegalovirus Viral Chemokines, vCXCL-1s, Display Functional Selectivity for Neutrophil Signaling and Function.

Authors: Heo J, Dogra P, Masi TJ, Pitt EA, de Kruijf P, Smit MJ, Sparer TE.
Publisher/Year: J Immunol. 195(1):227-36.
Pub Med ID/Journal ID: PMID:25987741


Human CMV (HCMV) uses members of the hematopoietic system including neutrophils for dissemination throughout the body. HCMV encodes a viral chemokine, vCXCL-1, that is postulated to attract neutrophils for dissemination within the host. The gene encoding vCXCL-1, UL146, is one of the most variable genes in the HCMV genome. Why HCMV has evolved this hypervariability and how this affects the virus' dissemination and pathogenesis is unknown. Because the vCXCL-1 hypervariability maps to important binding and activation domains, we hypothesized that vCXCL-1s differentially activate neutrophils, which could contribute to HCMV dissemination, pathogenesis, or both. To test whether these viral chemokines affect neutrophil function, we generated vCXCL-1 proteins from 11 different clades from clinical isolates from infants infected congenitally with HCMV. All vCXCL-1s were able to induce calcium flux at a concentration of 100 nM and integrin expression on human peripheral blood neutrophils, despite differences in affinity for the CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptors. In fact, their affinity for CXCR1 or CXCR2 did not correlate directly with chemotaxis, G protein-dependent and independent (β-arrestin-2) activation, or secondary chemokine (CCL22) expression. Our data suggest that vCXCL-1 polymorphisms affect the binding affinity, receptor usage, and differential peripheral blood neutrophil activation that could contribute to HCMV dissemination and pathogenesis.