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J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(24):12919-28. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05385-11. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

White spot syndrome virus induces metabolic changes resembling the warburg effect in shrimp hemocytes in the early stage of infection.

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Institute of Biotechnology, College of Bioscience and Biotechnology, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan.


The Warburg effect is an abnormal glycolysis response that is associated with cancer cells. Here we present evidence that metabolic changes resembling the Warburg effect are induced by a nonmammalian virus. When shrimp were infected with white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), changes were induced in several metabolic pathways related to the mitochondria. At the viral genome replication stage (12 h postinfection [hpi]), glucose consumption and plasma lactate concentration were both increased in WSSV-infected shrimp, and the key enzyme of the pentose phosphate pathway, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH), showed increased activity. We also found that at 12 hpi there was no alteration in the ADP/ATP ratio and that oxidative stress was lower than that in uninfected controls. All of these results are characteristic of the Warburg effect as it is present in mammals. There was also a significant decrease in triglyceride concentration starting at 12 hpi. At the late stage of the infection cycle (24 hpi), hemocytes of WSSV-infected shrimp showed several changes associated with cell death. These included the induction of mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (MMP), increased oxidative stress, decreased glucose consumption, and disrupted energy production. A previous study showed that WSSV infection led to upregulation of the voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC), which is known to be involved in both the Warburg effect and MMP. Here we show that double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) silencing of the VDAC reduces WSSV-induced mortality and virion copy number. For these results, we hypothesize a model depicting the metabolic changes in host cells at the early and late stages of WSSV infection.

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