Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

ACSS2-mediated acetyl-CoA synthesis from acetate is necessary for human cytomegalovirus infection.

PMID 28167750


Recent studies have shown that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) can induce a robust increase in lipid synthesis which is critical for the success of infection. In mammalian cells the central precursor for lipid biosynthesis, cytosolic acetyl CoA (Ac-CoA), is produced by ATP-citrate lyase (ACLY) from mitochondria-derived citrate or by acetyl-CoA synthetase short-chain family member 2 (ACSS2) from acetate. It has been reported that ACLY is the primary enzyme involved in making cytosolic Ac-CoA in cells with abundant nutrients. However, using CRISPR/Cas9 technology, we have shown that ACLY is not essential for HCMV growth and virally induced lipogenesis. Instead, we found that in HCMV-infected cells glucose carbon can be used for lipid synthesis by both ACLY and ACSS2 reactions. Further, the ACSS2 reaction can compensate for the loss of ACLY. However, in ACSS2-KO human fibroblasts both HCMV-induced lipogenesis from glucose and viral growth were sharply reduced. This reduction suggests that glucose-derived acetate is being used to synthesize cytosolic Ac-CoA by ACSS2. Previous studies have not established a mechanism for the production of acetate directly from glucose metabolism. Here we show that HCMV-infected cells produce more glucose-derived pyruvate, which can be converted to acetate through a nonenzymatic mechanism.