Src family kinase activity drives cytomegalovirus reactivation by recruiting MOZ histone acetyltransferase activity to the viral promoter

J Biol Chem. 2019 Aug 30;294(35):12901-12910. doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA119.009667. Epub 2019 Jul 4.


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency and reactivation rely on a complex interplay between cellular differentiation, cell signaling pathways, and viral gene functions. HCMV reactivation in dendritic cells (DCs) is triggered by IL-6 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling. However, activation of the same pathway fails to reactivate HCMV in other myeloid cell types, despite this signaling axis being active in those cells. We hypothesized that IL-6-induced ERK activation initiates the changes in chromatin structure required for viral reactivation but that a concomitant signal is necessary to complete the changes in chromatin structure required for gene expression to occur. Using a differential phosphoproteomics approach in cells that do or do not support IL-6-induced viral reactivation, we identified the concomitant activation of an Src family kinase (SFK), hematopoietic cell kinase (HCK), specifically in DCs in response to IL-6. Pharmacological and genetic inhibition of HCK activity indicated that HCK is required for HCMV reactivation. Furthermore, the HCK/SFK activity was linked to recruitment of the monocytic leukemia zinc finger protein (MOZ) histone acetyltransferase to the viral promoter, which promoted histone acetylation after ERK-mediated histone phosphorylation. Importantly, pharmacological and genetic inhibition of MOZ activity prevented reactivation. These results provide an explanation for the selective activation of viral gene expression in DCs by IL-6, dependent on concomitant SFK and ERK signaling. They also reveal a previously unreported role for SFK activity in the regulation of chromatin structure at promoters in eukaryotic cells via MOZ histone acetyltransferase activity.

Keywords: cell signaling; chromatin modification; cytomegalovirus reactivation; epigenetic regulation; gene expression; hematopoietic cell kinase; herpesvirus; histone acetylation; lysine acetyltransferase 6A (KAT6A); phosphoproteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytomegalovirus / genetics*
  • Cytomegalovirus / physiology*
  • Histone Acetyltransferases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic / genetics*
  • Virus Activation / genetics*
  • Zinc Fingers
  • src-Family Kinases / metabolism*


  • Histone Acetyltransferases
  • src-Family Kinases