The cytomegalovirus-encoded chemokine receptor US28 promotes intestinal neoplasia in transgenic mice

Gerold Bongers, David Maussang, Luciana R Muniz, Vanessa M Noriega, Alberto Fraile-Ramos, Nick Barker, Federica Marchesi, Nanthakumar Thirunarayanan, Henry F Vischer, Lihui Qin, Lloyd Mayer, Noam Harpaz, Rob Leurs, Glaucia C Furtado, Hans Clevers, Domenico Tortorella, Martine J Smit, Sergio A Lira

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US28 is a constitutively active chemokine receptor encoded by CMV (also referred to as human herpesvirus 5), a highly prevalent human virus that infects a broad spectrum of cells, including intestinal epithelial cells (IECs). To study the role of US28 in vivo, we created transgenic mice (VS28 mice) in which US28 expression was targeted to IECs. Expression of US28 was detected in all IECs of the small and large intestine, including in cells expressing leucine rich repeat containing GPCR5 (Lgr5), a marker gene of intestinal epithelial stem cells. US28 expression in IECs inhibited glycogen synthase 3β (GSK-3β) function, promoted accumulation of β-catenin protein, and increased expression of Wnt target genes involved in the control of the cell proliferation. VS28 mice showed a hyperplastic intestinal epithelium and, strikingly, developed adenomas and adenocarcinomas by 40 weeks of age. When exposed to an inflammation-driven tumor model (azoxymethane/dextran sodium sulfate), VS28 mice developed a significantly higher tumor burden than control littermates. Transgenic coexpression of the US28 ligand CCL2 (an inflammatory chemokine) increased IEC proliferation as well as tumor burden, suggesting that the oncogenic activity of US28 can be modulated by inflammatory factors. Together, these results indicate that expression of US28 promotes development of intestinal dysplasia and cancer in transgenic mice and suggest that CMV infection may facilitate development of intestinal neoplasia in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3969-3978
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Clinical Investigation
Issue number11
Early online date11 Oct 2010
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Humans
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestinal Neoplasms
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Receptors, Chemokine
  • Viral Proteins
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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