Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection causes dramatic alterations of intermediary metabolism, similar to those found in tumor cells. In infected cells, glucose carbon is not completely broken down by the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle for energy; instead, it is used biosynthetically. This process requires increased glucose uptake, increased glycolysis and the diversion of glucose carbon, in the form of citrate, from the TCA cycle for use in HCMV-induced fatty acid biosynthesis. The diversion of citrate from the TCA cycle (cataplerosis) requires induction of enzymes to promote glutaminolysis, the conversion of glutamine to α-ketoglutarate to maintain the TCA cycle (anaplerosis) and ATP production. Such changes could result in heretofore uncharacterized pathogenesis, potentially implicating HCMV as a subtle cofactor in many maladies, including oncogenesis. Recognition of the effects of HCMV, and other viruses, on host cell metabolism will provide new understanding of viral pathogenesis and novel avenues for antiviral therapy.
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