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J Virol. 2014 Oct;88(20):12041-54. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02061-14. Epub 2014 Aug 13.

The composition of West Nile virus lipid envelope unveils a role of sphingolipid metabolism in flavivirus biogenesis.

Author information

1
Department of Virology and Microbiology, Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Madrid, Spain.
2
Department of Biotechnology, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Madrid, Spain.
3
Department of Biomedicinal Chemistry, Institute for Advanced Chemistry of Catalonia (IQAC-CSIC), Barcelona, Spain.
4
Department of Virology and Microbiology, Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Madrid, Spain fsobrino@cbm.csic.es jcsaiz@inia.es.
5
Department of Biotechnology, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA), Madrid, Spain fsobrino@cbm.csic.es jcsaiz@inia.es.

Abstract

West Nile virus (WNV) is an emerging zoonotic mosquito-borne flavivirus responsible for outbreaks of febrile illness and meningoencephalitis. The replication of WNV takes place on virus-modified membranes from the endoplasmic reticulum of the host cell, and virions acquire their envelope by budding into this organelle. Consistent with this view, the cellular biology of this pathogen is intimately linked to modifications of the intracellular membranes, and the requirement for specific lipids, such as cholesterol and fatty acids, has been documented. In this study, we evaluated the impact of WNV infection on two important components of cellular membranes, glycerophospholipids and sphingolipids, by mass spectrometry of infected cells. A significant increase in the content of several glycerophospholipids (phosphatidylcholine, plasmalogens, and lysophospholipids) and sphingolipids (ceramide, dihydroceramide, and sphingomyelin) was noticed in WNV-infected cells, suggesting that these lipids have functional roles during WNV infection. Furthermore, the analysis of the lipid envelope of WNV virions and recombinant virus-like particles revealed that their envelopes had a unique composition. The envelopes were enriched in sphingolipids (sphingomyelin) and showed reduced levels of phosphatidylcholine, similar to sphingolipid-enriched lipid microdomains. Inhibition of neutral sphingomyelinase (which catalyzes the hydrolysis of sphingomyelin into ceramide) by either pharmacological approaches or small interfering RNA-mediated silencing reduced the release of flavivirus virions as well as virus-like particles, suggesting a role of sphingomyelin-to-ceramide conversion in flavivirus budding and confirming the importance of sphingolipids in the biogenesis of WNV.

IMPORTANCE:

West Nile virus (WNV) is a neurotropic flavivirus spread by mosquitoes that can infect multiple vertebrate hosts, including humans. There is no specific vaccine or therapy against this pathogen licensed for human use. Since the multiplication of this virus is associated with rearrangements of host cell membranes, we analyzed the effect of WNV infection on different cellular lipids that constitute important membrane components. The levels of multiple lipid species were increased in infected cells, pointing to the induction of major alterations of cellular lipid metabolism by WNV infection. Interestingly, certain sphingolipids, which were increased in infected cells, were also enriched in the lipid envelope of the virus, thus suggesting a potential role during virus assembly. We further verified the role of sphingolipids in the production of WNV by means of functional analyses. This study provides new insight into the formation of flavivirus infectious particles and the involvement of sphingolipids in the WNV life cycle.

PMID:
25122799
PMCID:
PMC4178726
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.02061-14
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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