Wnt modulating agents inhibit human cytomegalovirus replication

Arun Kapoor, Ran He, Rajkumar Venkatadri, Michael Forman, Ravit Arav-Boger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Infection with human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) continues to be a threat for pregnant women and immunocompromised hosts. Although limited anti-HCMV therapies are available, development of new agents is desired. The Wnt signaling pathway plays a critical role in embryonic and cancer stem cell development and is targeted by gammaherpesviruses, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). HCMV infects stem cells, including neural progenitor cells, during embryogenesis. To investigate the role of Wnt in HCMV replication in vitro, we tested monensin, nigericin, and salinomycin, compounds that inhibit cancer stem cell growth by modulating the Wnt pathway. These compounds inhibited the replication of HCMV Towne and a clinical isolate. Inhibition occurred prior to DNA replication but persisted throughout the full replication cycle. There was a significant decrease in expression of IE2, UL44, and pp65 proteins. HCMV infection resulted in a significant and sustained decrease in expression of phosphorylated and total lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (pLRP6 and LRP6, respectively), Wnt 5a/b, and β-catenin and a modest decrease in Dvl2/3, while levels of the negative regulator axin 1 were increased. Nigericin decreased the expression of pLRP6, LRP6, axin 1, and Wnt 5a/b in noninfected and HCMV-infected cells. For all three compounds, a correlation was found between expression levels of Wnt 5a/b and axin 1 and HCMV inhibition. The decrease in Wnt 5a/b and axin 1 expression was more significant in HCMV-infected cells than noninfected cells. These data illustrate the complex effects of HCMV on the Wnt pathway and the fine balance between Wnt and HCMV, resulting in abrogation of HCMV replication. Additional studies are required to elucidate how HCMV targets Wnt for its benefit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2761-2767
Number of pages7
JournalAntimicrobial agents and chemotherapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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