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  • The American Society for Microbiology (ASM)  (1)
  • 1
    Publication Date: 2018-04-14
    Description: Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) persistence in infected individuals relies on a plethora of mechanisms to efficiently reduce host immune responses. To that end, HCMV uses a variety of gene products, some of which have not been identified yet. Here we characterized the UL8 gene, which consists of two exons, sharing the first with the HCMV RL11 family member UL7 . UL8 is a transmembrane protein with an N-terminal immunoglobulin (Ig)-like domain in common with UL7 but with an extended stalk and a distinctive cytoplasmic tail. The UL8 open reading frame gives rise to a heavily glycosylated protein predominantly expressed on the cell surface, from where it can be partially endocytosed and subsequently degraded. Infections with UL8-tagged viruses indicated that UL8 was synthesized with late-phase kinetics. By virtue of its highly conserved Ig-like domain, this viral protein interacted with a surface molecule present on activated neutrophils. Notably, when ectopically expressed in THP-1 myeloid cells, UL8 was able to significantly reduce the production of a variety of proinflammatory cytokines. Mutations in UL8 indicated that this functional effect was mediated by the cell surface expression of its Ig-like domain. To investigate the impact of the viral protein in the infection context, we engineered HCMVs lacking the UL8 gene and demonstrated that UL8 decreases the release of a large number of proinflammatory factors at late times after infection of THP-1 cells. Our data indicate that UL8 may exert an immunosuppressive role key for HCMV survival in the host. IMPORTANCE HCMV is a major pathogen that causes life-threatening diseases and disabilities in infected newborns and immunocompromised individuals. Containing one of the largest genomes among all reported human viruses, HCMV encodes an impressive repertoire of gene products. However, the functions of a large proportion of them still remain unknown, a fact that complicates the design of new therapeutic approaches to prevent or treat HCMV-associated diseases. In this report, we have conducted an extensive study of UL8 , one of the previously uncharacterized HCMV open reading frames. We found that the UL8 protein is expressed at late times postinfection and utilized by HCMV to reduce the production of proinflammatory factors by infected myeloid cells. Thus, the work presented here points to a key role of UL8 as a novel HCMV immune modulator capable of restraining host antiviral defenses.
    Print ISSN: 0022-538X
    Electronic ISSN: 1098-5514
    Topics: Medicine
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