The human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) encoded chemokine receptor US28 promotes tumorigenesis through activation of various proliferative and angiogenic signaling pathways. Upon infection, US28 displays constitutive activity and signals in a G protein-dependent manner, hijacking the host's cellular machinery. In tumor cells, the hypoxia inducible factor-1α/pyruvate kinase M2 (HIF-1α/PKM2) axis plays an important role by supporting proliferation, angiogenesis and reprogramming of energy metabolism. In this study we show that US28 signaling results in activation of the HIF-1α/PKM2 feedforward loop in fibroblasts and glioblastoma cells. The constitutive activity of US28 increases HIF-1 protein stability through a Gαq-, CaMKII- and Akt/mTOR-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, we found that VEGF and lactate secretion are increased and HIF-1 target genes, glucose transporter type 1 (GLUT1) and glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH), involved in glucose metabolism, are upregulated in US28 expressing cells. In addition, PKM2 is phosphorylated and found to be in a tumor-associated dimeric state upon US28 expression. Also in HCMV-infected cells HIF-1 activity is enhanced, which in part is US28-dependent. Finally, increased proliferation of cells expressing US28 is abolished upon inhibition of the HIF-1α/PKM2 cascade. These data highlight the importance of HIF-1α and PKM2 in US28-induced proliferation, angiogenesis and metabolic reprogramming.
Keywords: G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR); chemokine; glioblastoma; human cytomegalovirus (HCMV); hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF).