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PLoS pathogens

Herpesviral G protein-coupled receptors activate NFAT to induce tumor formation via inhibiting the SERCA calcium ATPase.


PMID 25811856

Abstract

G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute the largest family of proteins that transmit signal to regulate an array of fundamental biological processes. Viruses deploy diverse tactics to hijack and harness intracellular signaling events induced by GPCR. Herpesviruses encode multiple GPCR homologues that are implicated in viral pathogenesis. Cellular GPCRs are primarily regulated by their cognate ligands, while herpesviral GPCRs constitutively activate downstream signaling cascades, including the nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) pathway. However, the roles of NFAT activation and mechanism thereof in viral GPCR tumorigenesis remain unknown. Here we report that GPCRs of human Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (kGPCR) and cytomegalovirus (US28) shortcut NFAT activation by inhibiting the sarcoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase (SERCA), which is necessary for viral GPCR tumorigenesis. Biochemical approaches, entailing pharmacological inhibitors and protein purification, demonstrate that viral GPCRs target SERCA2 to increase cytosolic calcium concentration. As such, NFAT activation induced by vGPCRs was exceedingly sensitive to cyclosporine A that targets calcineurin, but resistant to inhibition upstream of ER calcium release. Gene expression profiling identified a signature of NFAT activation in endothelial cells expressing viral GPCRs. The expression of NFAT-dependent genes was up-regulated in tumors derived from tva-kGPCR mouse and human KS. Employing recombinant kGPCR-deficient KSHV, we showed that kGPCR was critical for NFAT-dependent gene expression in KSHV lytic replication. Finally, cyclosporine A treatment diminished NFAT-dependent gene expression and tumor formation induced by viral GPCRs. These findings reveal essential roles of NFAT activation in viral GPCR tumorigenesis and a mechanism of "constitutive" NFAT activation by viral GPCRs.