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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24970. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024970. Epub 2011 Sep 20.

West Nile virus replication requires fatty acid synthesis but is independent on phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate lipids.

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Departamento de Biotecnología, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Madrid, Spain.


West Nile virus (WNV) is a neurovirulent mosquito-borne flavivirus, which main natural hosts are birds but it also infects equines and humans, among other mammals. As in the case of other plus-stranded RNA viruses, WNV replication is associated to intracellular membrane rearrangements. Based on results obtained with a variety of viruses, different cellular processes have been shown to play important roles on these membrane rearrangements for efficient viral replication. As these processes are related to lipid metabolism, fatty acid synthesis, as well as generation of a specific lipid microenvironment enriched in phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P), has been associated to it in other viral models. In this study, intracellular membrane rearrangements following infection with a highly neurovirulent strain of WNV were addressed by means of electron and confocal microscopy. Infection of WNV, and specifically viral RNA replication, were dependent on fatty acid synthesis, as revealed by the inhibitory effect of cerulenin and C75, two pharmacological inhibitors of fatty acid synthase, a key enzyme of this process. However, WNV infection did not induce redistribution of PI4P lipids, and PI4P did not localize at viral replication complex. Even more, WNV multiplication was not inhibited by the use of the phosphatidylinositol-4-kinase inhibitor PIK93, while infection by the enterovirus Coxsackievirus B5 was reduced. Similar features were found when infection by other flavivirus, the Usutu virus (USUV), was analyzed. These features of WNV replication could help to design specific antiviral approaches against WNV and other related flaviviruses.

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