Double membrane vesicles (DMVs) serve as replication organelles of plus-strand RNA viruses such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) and SARS-CoV-2. Viral DMVs are morphologically analogous to DMVs formed during autophagy, but lipids driving their biogenesis are largely unknown. Here we show that production of the lipid phosphatidic acid (PA) by acylglycerolphosphate acyltransferase (AGPAT) 1 and 2 in the ER is important for DMV biogenesis in viral replication and autophagy. Using DMVs in HCV-replicating cells as model, we found that AGPATs are recruited to and critically contribute to HCV and SARS-CoV-2 replication and proper DMV formation. An intracellular PA sensor accumulated at viral DMV formation sites, consistent with elevated levels of PA in fractions of purified DMVs analyzed by lipidomics. Apart from AGPATs, PA is generated by alternative pathways and their pharmacological inhibition also impaired HCV and SARS-CoV-2 replication as well as formation of autophagosome-like DMVs. These data identify PA as host cell lipid involved in proper replication organelle formation by HCV and SARS-CoV-2, two phylogenetically disparate viruses causing very different diseases, i.e. chronic liver disease and COVID-19, respectively. Host-targeting therapy aiming at PA synthesis pathways might be suitable to attenuate replication of these viruses.
© 2021. The Author(s).