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Virology. 2011 May 25;414(1):83-90. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2011.03.005. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

Interaction of the human cytomegalovirus particle with the host cell induces hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha.

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MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research, 8 Church Street, Glasgow, G11 5JR, Scotland, United Kingdom.


The cellular protein hypoxia-inducible factor 1 alpha (HIF-1α) was induced after infection of human fibroblasts with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). HCMV irradiated with ultraviolet light (uv-HCMV) also elicited the effect, demonstrating that the response was provoked by interaction of the infecting virion with the cell and that viral gene expression was not required. Although induction of HIF-1α was initiated by an early event, accumulation of the protein was not detected until 9 hours post infection, with levels increasing thereafter. Infection with uv-HCMV resulted in increased abundance of HIF-1α-specific RNA, indicating stimulation of transcription. In addition, greater phosphorylation of the protein kinase Akt was observed, and the activity of this enzyme was required for induction of HIF-1α to occur. HIF-1α controls the expression of many cellular gene products; therefore the findings reveal new ways in which interaction of the HCMV particle with the host cell may cause significant alterations to cellular physiology.

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