The influence of HCMV infection on autophagy in THP-1 cells

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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is very common and latency can be reactivated in the future. And it can alter the intracellular environment, similar to other herpesviruses, for viral replication and survival. The aim of this study was to investigate the influence of HCMV infection on autophagy in human acute monocytic leukemia cell line (THP-1 cells).


Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), western blot, and transmission electron microscope (TEM) were used to examine autophagy level. The concentrations of autophagy-related proteins Beclin 1, Atg5, and the light chain three (LC3) were counted when compared with actin level.


The expression levels of Beclin1, Atg5, and LC3II mRNAs increased gradually between 1 and 5 days(d) postinfection (p.i.) and subsequently decreased little by little when compared with the control THP-1 cells. However, results of western blot analysis displayed that the level of LC3II increased gradually after 1 day p.i. and decreased at 7 days after infection. But the levels of Atg5 and Beclin1 increased gradually after 2 days p.i. and began to decrease at 5 days after infection, respectively.


These results suggested that HCMV infection can facilitate the autophagy and autophagy level may decrease in latent phase. More studies on the relationship between HCMV latency and autophagy are needed to determine the role of autophagy in HCMV latent infection that may help find out a therapeutic approach for clinical treatment.

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