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Nitric Oxide Circumvents Virus-Mediated Metabolic Regulation during Human Cytomegalovirus Infection. mBio 2020 Dec 15;11(6)



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Scopus ID

2-s2.0-85098068781 (requires institutional sign-in at Scopus site)   10 Citations


Nitric oxide is a versatile and critical effector molecule that can modulate many cellular functions. Although recognized as a regulator of infections, the inhibitory mechanism of nitric oxide against human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) replication remains elusive. We demonstrate that nitric oxide attenuates viral replication by interfering with HCMV-mediated modulation of several cellular processes. Nitric oxide exposure reduced HCMV genome synthesis and infectious viral progeny with cell-type-dependent differences observed. Mitochondrial respiration was severely reduced in both uninfected and HCMV-infected cells during exposure with little impact on ATP levels indicating changes in cellular metabolism. Metabolomics identified significantly altered small molecules in multiple pathways during nitric oxide exposure including nucleotide biosynthesis, tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle, and glutamine metabolism. Glutathione metabolites were increased coinciding with a reduction in the glutathione precursor glutamine. This shift was accompanied by increased antioxidant enzymes. Glutamine deprivation mimicked defects in HCMV replication and mitochondrial respiration observed during nitric oxide exposure. These data suggest that nitric oxide limits glutaminolysis by shuttling glutamine to glutathione synthesis. In addition, lipid intermediates were severely altered, which likely contributes to the observed increase in defective viral particles. Nitric oxide disrupts multiple cellular processes, and we had limited success in rescuing replication defects by supplementing with metabolic intermediates. Our studies indicate that nitric oxide attenuation of HCMV is multifactorial with interference in viral manipulation of cellular metabolism playing a central role.IMPORTANCE Human cytomegalovirus is a prevalent pathogen that can cause serious disease in patients with compromised immune systems, including transplant patients and during congenital infection. HCMV lytic replication likely occurs in localized sites of infection with immune cells infiltrating and releasing nitric oxide with other effector molecules. This nonspecific immune response results in both uninfected and infected cells exposed to high levels of nitric oxide. The absence of nitric oxide synthase has been associated with lethal HCMV infection. We demonstrate that nitric oxide inhibition of HCMV replication is multifactorial and cell type dependent. Our results indicate that nitric oxide controls replication by interfering with viral modulation of cellular metabolism while also affecting proliferation and mitochondrial respiration of neighboring uninfected cells. These studies identify the mechanism and contribution of nitric oxide during immune control of HCMV infection and provide insight into its role in other viral infections.

Author List

Mokry RL, Schumacher ML, Hogg N, Terhune SS


Neil Hogg PhD Associate Dean, Professor in the Biophysics department at Medical College of Wisconsin
Scott Terhune PhD Professor in the Microbiology and Immunology department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Adenosine Triphosphate
Cell Line
Citric Acid Cycle
Cytomegalovirus Infections
Host-Pathogen Interactions
Nitric Oxide
Virus Replication