1887

Abstract

Congenital human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection can cause severe brain abnormalities. Apoptotic HCMV-infected brain cells have been detected in a congenitally infected infant. In biologically relevant human neural precursor cells (hNPCs), cultured in physiological oxygen tensions, HCMV infection (m.o.i. of 1 or 3) induced cell death within 3 days post-infection (p.i.) and increased thereafter. Surprisingly, its known anti-apoptotic genes, including the potent UL37 exon 1 protein (pUL37x1) or viral mitochondria-localized inhibitor of apoptosis (vMIA), which protects infected human fibroblasts (HFFs) from apoptosis and from caspase-independent, mitochondrial serine protease-mediated cell death, were expressed by 2 days p.i. Consistent with this finding, an HCMV UL37x1 mutant, BADUL37x1 (BADUL37x1) induced cell death in hNPCs (m.o.i. = 1) to level which were indistinguishable from parental virus (BAD)-infected hNPCs. Surprisingly, although BADUL37x1 is growth defective in permissive HFFs, it produced infectious progeny in hNPCs with similar kinetics and to levels comparable to BADinfected hNPCs (m.o.i. = 1). While delayed at a lower multiplicity (m.o.i. = 0.3), the BADUL37x1 mutant reached similar levels to revertant within 12 days, in contrast to its phenotype in HFFs. The inability of pUL37x1/vMIA to protect hNPCs from HCMV-induced cell death did not result from impaired trafficking as pUL37x1/vMIA trafficked efficiently to mitochondria in transfected hNPCs and in HCMV-infected hNPCs. These results establish that pUL37x1/vMIA, although protective in permissive HFFs, does not protect HCMV-infected hNPCs from cell death under physiologically relevant oxygen tensions. They further suggest that pUL37x1/vMIA is not essential for HCMV growth in hNPCs and has different cell type-specific roles.

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2012-11-01
2021-03-08
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