Bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate, an important actor in the host endocytic machinery hijacked by SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses

Biochimie. 2020 Dec;179:247-256. doi: 10.1016/j.biochi.2020.10.018. Epub 2020 Nov 5.


Viruses, including the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, redirect infected cell metabolism to their own purposes. After binding to its receptor angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) on the cell surface, the SARS-CoV-2 is taken up by receptor-mediated endocytosis ending in the acidic endolysosomal compartment. The virus hijacks the endosomal machinery leading to fusion of viral and endosomal membranes and release of the viral RNA into the cytosol. This mini-review specifically highlights the membrane lipid organization of the endosomal system focusing on the unconventional and late endosome/lysosome-specific phospholipid, bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate (BMP). BMP is enriched in alveolar macrophages of lung, one of the target tissue of SARS-CoV-2. This review details the BMP structure, its unsaturated fatty acid composition and fusogenic properties that are essential for the highly dynamic formation of the intraluminal vesicles inside the endosomes. Interestingly, BMP is necessary for infection and replication of enveloped RNA virus such as SARS-CoV-1 and Dengue virus. We also emphasize the role of BMP in lipid sorting and degradation, especially cholesterol transport in cooperation with Niemann Pick type C proteins (NPC 1 and 2) and with some oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP)-related proteins (ORPs) as well as in sphingolipid degradation. Interestingly, numerous virus infection required NPC1 as well as ORPs along the endocytic pathway. Furthermore, BMP content is increased during pathological endosomal lipid accumulation in various lysosomal storage disorders. This is particularly important knowing the high percentage of patients with metabolic disorders among the SARS-CoV-2 infected patients presenting severe forms of COVID-19.

Keywords: Bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate; Cholesterol; Extracellular vesicles; Niemann pick type C disease NPC; Oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP)-Related proteins ORP; SARS-CoV-2.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Endocytosis*
  • Homeostasis
  • Host Microbial Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / metabolism*
  • Monoglycerides / metabolism*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*


  • Lysophospholipids
  • Monoglycerides
  • bis(monoacylglyceryl)phosphate
  • Cholesterol