The Human Cytomegalovirus UL38 protein drives mTOR-independent metabolic flux reprogramming by inhibiting TSC2.

PLoS pathogens (2019-01-25)
Irene Rodríguez-Sánchez, Xenia L Schafer, Morgan Monaghan, Joshua Munger

Human Cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection induces several metabolic activities that are essential for viral replication. Despite the important role that this metabolic modulation plays during infection, the viral mechanisms involved are largely unclear. We find that the HCMV UL38 protein is responsible for many aspects of HCMV-mediated metabolic activation, with UL38 being necessary and sufficient to drive glycolytic activation and induce the catabolism of specific amino acids. UL38's metabolic reprogramming role is dependent on its interaction with TSC2, a tumor suppressor that inhibits mTOR signaling. Further, shRNA-mediated knockdown of TSC2 recapitulates the metabolic phenotypes associated with UL38 expression. Notably, we find that in many cases the metabolic flux activation associated with UL38 expression is largely independent of mTOR activity, as broad spectrum mTOR inhibition does not impact UL38-mediated induction of glycolysis, glutamine consumption, or the secretion of proline or alanine. In contrast, the induction of metabolite concentrations observed with UL38 expression are largely dependent on active mTOR. Collectively, our results indicate that the HCMV UL38 protein induces a pro-viral metabolic environment via inhibition of TSC2.

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MISSION® pLKO.1-puro Empty Vector Control Plasmid DNA, Contains no shRNA insert
DL-Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate solution, 45-55 mg/mL in H2O