Polyamine-Linked Cholesterol Incorporation in Rift Valley Fever Virus Particles Promotes Infectivity

ACS Infect Dis. 2022 Aug 12;8(8):1439-1448. doi: 10.1021/acsinfecdis.2c00071. Epub 2022 Jul 5.


Viruses rely on an array of cellular metabolites to replicate and form progeny virions. One set of these molecules, polyamines, are small aliphatic molecules, which are abundant in most cells, that support virus infection; however, the precise roles of polyamines in virus infection remain incompletely understood. Recent work demonstrated that polyamine metabolism supports cellular cholesterol synthesis through translation of the key transcription factor SREBP2. Here, we show that the bunyavirus Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) relies on both cholesterol and polyamines for virus infection. Depletion of cellular cholesterol or interruption of cholesterol trafficking negatively impacts RVFV infection. Cholesterol is incorporated into RVFV virions and mediates their infectivity in a polyamine-dependent manner; we find that the virus derived from polyamine-depleted cells lacks cholesterol within the virion membrane. Conversely, we find that virion-associated cholesterol is linked to the incorporation of spermidine within the virion. Our prior work demonstrated that polyamines facilitate pH-mediated fusion and genome release, which may be a consequence of cholesterol depletion within virions. Thus, our work highlights the metabolic connection between polyamines and cholesterol synthesis to impact bunyavirus infection. These data demonstrate the connectedness between cellular metabolic pathways and reveal potential avenues of therapeutic intervention.

Keywords: Rift Valley fever virus; bunyaviruses; cholesterol; metabolism; polyamines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholesterol
  • Polyamines
  • Rift Valley fever virus* / genetics
  • Virion / genetics


  • Polyamines
  • Cholesterol