Redox Regulation and Metabolic Dependency of Zika Virus Replication: Inhibition by Nrf2-Antioxidant Response and NAD(H) Antimetabolites

J Virol. 2023 Jan 23;e0136322. doi: 10.1128/jvi.01363-22. Online ahead of print.


Viral infections alter host cell metabolism and homeostasis; however, the mechanisms that regulate these processes have only begun to be elucidated. We report here that Zika virus (ZIKV) infection activates the antioxidant nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2), which precedes oxidative stress. Downregulation of Nrf2 or inhibition of glutathione (GSH) synthesis resulted in significantly increased viral replication. Interestingly, 6-amino-nicotinamide (6-AN), a nicotinamide analog commonly used as an inhibitor of the pentose phosphate pathway (PPP), decreased viral replication by over 1,000-fold. This inhibition was neither recapitulated by the knockdown of PPP enzymes, glucose 6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), or 6-phosphogluconate dehydrogenase (6PGD), nor prevented by supplementation with ribose 5-phosphate. Instead, our metabolomics and metabolic phenotype studies support a mechanism in which 6-AN depletes cells of NAD(H) and impairs NAD(H)-dependent glycolytic steps resulting in inhibition of viral replication. The inhibitory effect of 6-AN was rescued with precursors of the salvage pathway but not with those of other NAD+ biosynthesis pathways. Inhibition of glycolysis reduced viral protein levels, which were recovered transiently. This transient recovery in viral protein synthesis was prevented when oxidative metabolism was inhibited by blockage of the mitochondrial pyruvate carrier, fatty acid oxidation, or glutaminolysis, demonstrating a compensatory role of mitochondrial metabolism in ZIKV replication. These results establish an antagonistic role for the host cell Nrf2/GSH/NADPH-dependent antioxidant response against ZIKV and demonstrate the dependency of ZIKV replication on NAD(H). Importantly, our work suggests the potential use of NAD(H) antimetabolite therapy against the viral infection. IMPORTANCE Zika virus (ZIKV) is a major public health concern of international proportions. While the incidence of ZIKV infections has declined substantially in recent years, the potential for the reemergence or reintroduction remains high. Although viral infection alters host cell metabolism and homeostasis to promote its replication, deciphering the mechanism(s) involved in these processes is important for identifying therapeutic targets. The present work reveals the complexities of host cell redox regulation and metabolic dependency of ZIKV replication. An antagonistic effect of the Nrf2/GSH/NADP(H)-dependent antioxidant response against ZIKV infection and an essential role of NAD(H) metabolism and glycolysis for viral replication are established for the first time. These findings highlight the potential use of NAD(H) antimetabolites to counter ZIKV infection and pathogenesis.

Keywords: 6-AN; GSH; Nrf2; Zika virus; oxidative stress; pentose phosphate pathway.