Human cytomegalovirus hijacks host stress response fueling replication stress and genome instability

Joanna Maria Merchut-Maya, Jiri Bartek, Jirina Bartkova, Panagiotis Galanos, Mattia Russel Pantalone, MyungHee Lee, Huanhuan L Cui, Patrick J Shilling, Christian Beltoft Brøchner, Helle Broholm, Apolinar Maya-Mendoza, Cecilia Söderberg-Naucler*, Jiri Bartek*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde


Viral infections enhance cancer risk and threaten host genome integrity. Although human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) proteins have been detected in a wide spectrum of human malignancies and HCMV infections have been implicated in tumorigenesis, the underlying mechanisms remain poorly understood. Here, we employed a range of experimental approaches, including single-molecule DNA fiber analysis, and showed that infection by any of the four commonly used HCMV strains: AD169, Towne, TB40E or VR1814 induced replication stress (RS), as documented by host-cell replication fork asymmetry and formation of 53BP1 foci. The HCMV-evoked RS triggered an ensuing host DNA damage response (DDR) and chromosomal instability in both permissive and non-permissive human cells, the latter being particularly relevant in the context of tumorigenesis, as such cells can survive and proliferate after HCMV infection. The viral major immediate early enhancer and promoter (MIEP) that controls expression of the viral genes IE72 (IE-1) and IE86 (IE-2), contains transcription-factor binding sites shared by promoters of cellular stress-response genes. We found that DNA damaging insults, including those relevant for cancer therapy, enhanced IE72/86 expression. Thus, MIEP has been evolutionary shaped to exploit host DDR. Ectopically expressed IE72 and IE86 also induced RS and increased genomic instability. Of clinical relevance, we show that undergoing standard-of-care genotoxic radio-chemotherapy in patients with HCMV-positive glioblastomas correlated with elevated HCMV protein markers after tumor recurrence. Collectively, these results are consistent with our proposed concept of HCMV hijacking transcription-factor binding sites shared with host stress-response genes. We present a model to explain the potential oncomodulatory effects of HCMV infections through enhanced replication stress, subverted DNA damage response and induced genomic instability.

TidsskriftCell Death and Differentiation
Udgave nummer8
Sider (fra-til)1639-1653
Antal sider15
StatusUdgivet - aug. 2022


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