Systems-level metabolic flux profiling identifies fatty acid synthesis as a target for antiviral therapy

Nature Biotechnology
Joshua MungerJoshua D Rabinowitz

Abstract

Viruses rely on the metabolic network of their cellular hosts to provide energy and building blocks for viral replication. We developed a flux measurement approach based on liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry to quantify changes in metabolic activity induced by human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). This approach reliably elucidated fluxes in cultured mammalian cells by monitoring metabolome labeling kinetics after feeding cells (13)C-labeled forms of glucose and glutamine. Infection with HCMV markedly upregulated flux through much of the central carbon metabolism, including glycolysis. Particularly notable increases occurred in flux through the tricarboxylic acid cycle and its efflux to the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway. Pharmacological inhibition of fatty acid biosynthesis suppressed the replication of both HCMV and influenza A, another enveloped virus. These results show that fatty acid synthesis is essential for the replication of two divergent enveloped viruses and that systems-level metabolic flux profiling can identify metabolic targets for antiviral therapy.

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