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J Biol Chem. 2010 Mar 19;285(12):9137-46. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.002774. Epub 2009 Dec 31.

The cytomegalovirus UL146 gene product vCXCL1 targets both CXCR1 and CXCR2 as an agonist.

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Laboratory for Molecular Pharmacology, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


Large DNA viruses, such as herpesvirus and poxvirus, encode proteins that target and exploit the chemokine system of their host. UL146 and UL147 in the cytomegalovirus (CMV) genome encode the two CXC chemokines vCXCL1 and vCXCL2. In this study, vCXCL1 was probed against a panel of the 18 classified human chemokine receptors. In calcium mobilization assays vCXCL1 acted as an agonist on both CXCR1 and CXCR2 but did not activate or block any of the other 16 chemokine receptors. vCXCL1 was characterized and compared with CXCL1/GROalpha, CXCL2/GRObeta, CXCL3/GROgamma, CXCL5/ENA-78, CXCL6/GCP-2, CXCL7/NAP-2 and CXCL8/IL-8 in competition binding, calcium mobilization, inositol triphosphate turnover, and chemotaxis assays using CXCR1- and CXCR2-expressing Chinese hamster ovary, 300.19, COS7, and L1.2 cells. The affinities of vCXCL1 for the CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptors were 44 and 5.6 nm, respectively, as determined in competition binding against radioactively labeled CXCL8. In calcium mobilization, phosphatidylinositol turnover, and chemotaxis assays, vCXCL1 acted as a highly efficacious activator of both receptors, with a rather low potency for the CXCR1 receptor but comparable with CXCL5 and CXCL7. It is suggested that CMV uses the UL146 gene product expressed in infected endothelial cells to attract neutrophils by activating their CXCR1 and CXCR2 receptors, whereby neutrophils can act as carriers of the virus to uninfected endothelial cells. In that way a lasting pool of CMV-infected endothelial cells could be maintained.

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