Glutaminolysis and glycolysis are essential for optimal replication of Marek's disease virus

Viruses may hijack glycolysis, glutaminolysis or fatty acid β-oxidation of host cells to provide energy and macromolecules required for efficient viral replication. Marek's disease virus (MDV) causes a deadly lymphoproliferative disease in chickens and modulates metabolism of host cells. Metabolic analysis of MDV-infected chicken embryonic fibroblasts (CEFs) identified elevated levels of metabolites involved in glutamine catabolism such as glutamic acid, alanine, glycine, pyrimidine and creatine. In addition, our results demonstrate that glutamine uptake is elevated by MDV-infected cells in vitro. Although glutamine, but not glucose, deprivation significantly reduced cell viability in MDV-infected cells, both glutamine and glucose were required for virus replication and spread. In the presence of minimum glutamine requirements based on optimal cell viability, virus replication was partially rescued by the addition of the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediate, α-ketoglutarate, suggesting that exogenous glutamine is an essential carbon source for the TCA cycle to generate energy and macromolecules required for virus replication. Surprisingly, the inhibition of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1a (CPT1a), which is elevated in MDV-infected cells, by chemical (etomoxir) or physiological (Manoly-CoA) inhibitors did not reduce MDV replication indicating that MDV replication does not require fatty acid β-oxidation. Taken together, our results demonstrate that MDV infection activates anaplerotic substrate from glucose to glutamine to provide energy and macromolecules required for MDV replication, and optimal MDV replication occurs when the cells do not depend on mitochondrial β-oxidation.

Importance Viruses can manipulate host cellular metabolism to provide energy and essential biosynthetic requirements for efficient replication. Marek's disease virus (MDV), an avian alphaherpesvirus, causes a deadly lymphoma in chickens and hijacks host cell metabolism. This study provides evidence for the importance of glycolysis and glutaminolysis, but not fatty acid β-oxidation, as an essential energy source for the replication and spread of MDV. Moreover, it suggests that in MDV infection, as in many tumour cells, glutamine is used for generation of energetic and biosynthetic requirements of the MDV infection, while glucose is used biosynthetically.

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