Like cancer cells, virally infected cells have dramatically altered metabolic requirements. We analyzed global metabolic changes induced by latent infection with an oncogenic virus, Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). KSHV is the etiologic agent of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS), the most common tumor of AIDS patients. Approximately one-third of the nearly 200 measured metabolites were altered following latent infection of endothelial cells by KSHV, including many metabolites of anabolic pathways common to most cancer cells. KSHV induced pathways that are commonly altered in cancer cells including glycolysis, the pentose phosphate pathway, amino acid production and fatty acid synthesis. Interestingly, over half of the detectable long chain fatty acids detected in our screen were significantly increased by latent KSHV infection. KSHV infection leads to the elevation of metabolites involved in the synthesis of fatty acids, not degradation from phospholipids, and leads to increased lipid droplet organelle formation in the infected cells. Fatty acid synthesis is required for the survival of latently infected endothelial cells, as inhibition of key enzymes in this pathway led to apoptosis of infected cells. Addition of palmitic acid to latently infected cells treated with a fatty acid synthesis inhibitor protected the cells from death indicating that the products of this pathway are essential. Our metabolomic analysis of KSHV-infected cells provides insight as to how oncogenic viruses can induce metabolic alterations common to cancer cells. Furthermore, this analysis raises the possibility that metabolic pathways may provide novel therapeutic targets for the inhibition of latent KSHV infection and ultimately KS tumors.
In recent years there has been a resurgence in the study of metabolic changes in tumor cells. To determine if an oncogenic virus alters similar metabolic pathways as cancer cells, we measured the levels of a large number of metabolites in endothelial cells infected with Kaposi?s Sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). KSHV is the etiologic agent of Kaposi's Sarcoma (KS), the most common tumor of AIDS patients world wide. Latent KSHV infection of endothelial cells altered a significant proportion of the host cell metabolites. Many metabolic pathways that are altered in most tumor cells were also altered by KSHV. In particular, KSHV upregulated fatty acid synthesis, a pathway that provides membrane material and metabolites critical for cell proliferation. Inhibitors of fatty acid synthesis kill many types of tumor cells and we found that these inhibitors led to death of cells latently infected with KSHV. In summary, we found that a directly oncogenic virus alters the same host metabolic pathways that are dysregulated in many cancer cells and that inhibition of these pathways can be used to kill off infected cells, thereby providing novel therapeutic targets for KSHV and ultimately KS tumors.