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Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) can result in either productive or non-productive infection, with the latter potentially leading to viral latency. The molecular factors dictating these outcomes are poorly understood. Here we used single-cell transcriptomics to analyse HCMV infection progression in monocytes, which are latently infected, and macrophages, considered to be permissive for productive infection. We show that early viral gene expression levels, specifically of those encoding immediate early proteins IE1 and IE2, are a major factor dictating productive infection. We also revealed that intrinsic, not induced, host cell interferon-stimulated gene expression level is a main determinant of infection outcome. Intrinsic interferon-stimulated gene expression is downregulated with monocyte to macrophage differentiation, partially explaining increased macrophage susceptibility to productive HCMV infection. Furthermore, non-productive macrophages could reactivate, making them potential latent virus reservoirs. Overall, we decipher molecular features underlying HCMV infection outcomes and propose macrophages as a potential HCMV reservoir. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited.


Michal Schwartz, Miri Shnayder, Aharon Nachshon, Tamar Arazi, Yaarit Kitsberg, Roi Levi Samia, Michael Lavi, Rottem Kuint, Reuven Tsabari, Noam Stern-Ginossar. Molecular characterization of human cytomegalovirus infection with single-cell transcriptomics. Nature microbiology. 2023 Mar;8(3):455-468

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PMID: 36732471

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