Activation of EGFR on monocytes is required for human cytomegalovirus entry and mediates cellular motility

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Dec 29;106(52):22369-74. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0908787106. Epub 2009 Dec 11.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) rapidly induces a mobile and functionally unique proinflammatory monocyte following infection that is proposed to mediate viral spread. The cellular pathways used by HCMV to initiate these biological changes remain unknown. Here, we document the expression of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on the surface of human peripheral blood monocytes but not on other blood leukocyte populations. Inhibition of EGFR signaling abrogated viral entry into monocytes, indicating that EGFR can serve as a cellular tropism receptor. Moreover, HCMV-activated EGFR was required for the induction of monocyte motility and transendothelial migration, two biological events required for monocyte extravasation into peripheral tissue, and thus viral spread. Transcriptome analysis revealed that HCMV-mediated EGFR signaling up-regulated neural Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome protein (N-WASP), an actin nucleator whose expression and function are normally limited in leukocytes. Knockdown of N-WASP expression blocked HCMV-induced but not phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)-induced monocyte motility, suggesting that a switch to and/or the distinct use of a new actin nucleator controlling motility occurs during HCMV infection of monocytes. Together, these data provide evidence that EGFR plays an essential role in the immunopathobiology of HCMV by mediating viral entry into monocytes and stimulating the aberrant biological activity that promotes hematogenous dissemination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus / pathogenicity*
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / blood
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / genetics
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / physiopathology
  • Cytomegalovirus Infections / virology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / pathology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / virology
  • ErbB Receptors / chemistry
  • ErbB Receptors / physiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / physiology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Monocytes / drug effects
  • Monocytes / pathology
  • Monocytes / physiology*
  • Monocytes / virology*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate / pharmacology
  • Up-Regulation
  • Virus Internalization*
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein, Neuronal / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein, Neuronal / genetics


  • WASL protein, human
  • Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome Protein, Neuronal
  • ErbB Receptors
  • Tetradecanoylphorbol Acetate

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE17948