HCMV miR-US22 down-regulation of EGR-1 regulates CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cell proliferation and viral reactivation

Iliyana Mikell, Lindsey B. Crawford, Meaghan H. Hancock, Jennifer Mitchell, Jason Buehler, Felicia Goodrum, Jay A. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Reactivation of latent Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in CD34+ hematopoietic progenitor cells (HPCs) is closely linked to hematopoiesis. Viral latency requires maintenance of the progenitor cell quiescence, while reactivation initiates following mobilization of HPCs to the periphery and differentiation into CD14+ macrophages. Early growth response gene 1 (EGR-1) is a transcription factor activated by Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling that is essential for the maintenance of CD34+ HPC self-renewal in the bone marrow niche. Down-regulation of EGR-1 results in mobilization and differentiation of CD34+ HPC from the bone marrow to the periphery. In the current study we demonstrate that the transcription factor EGR-1 is directly targeted for down-regulation by HCMV miR-US22 that results in decreased proliferation of CD34+ HPCs and a decrease in total hematopoietic colony formation. We also show that an HCMV miR-US22 mutant fails to reactivate in CD34+ HPCs, indicating that expression of EGR-1 inhibits viral reactivation during latency. Since EGR-1 promotes CD34+ HPC self-renewal in the bone marrow niche, HCMV miR-US22 down-regulation of EGR-1 is a necessary step to block HPC self-renewal and proliferation to induce a cellular differentiation pathway necessary to promote reactivation of virus.Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a widespread herpesvirus that persists in the host and remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in solid organ and stem cell transplant patients. HCMV latency is complex, and the molecular mechanisms for establishment, maintenance, and reactivation from latency are poorly understood.Quiescent stem cells in the bone marrow represent a critical reservoir of latent HCMV, and the mobilization and differentiation of these cells is closely linked to viral reactivation from latency. HCMV encodes small regulatory RNAs, called miRNAs that play important roles in the regulation of viral and cellular gene expression. In this study, we show that HCMV miR-US22 targets Early growth response gene 1 (EGR-1) a host transcription factor that is necessary for stem cell quiescence and self-renewal in the bone marrow. Expression of this miR-US22 down-regulates expression of EGR-1 that reduces CD34+ HPCs proliferation and total hematopoietic colony formation. An HCMV miR-US22 mutant is unable to reactivate from latency suggesting that the ability of the miRNA to disrupt CD34+ HPC renewal in the bone marrow niche to initiate a differentiation pathway is critical for viral reactivation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - May 21 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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