Epstein-Barr virus subverts mevalonate and fatty acid pathways to promote infected B-cell proliferation and survival.

Wang LW, Wang Z, Ersing I, Nobre L, Guo R, Jiang S, Trudeau S, Zhao B, Weekes MP, Gewurz BE.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes infectious mononucleosis and is associated with multiple human malignancies. EBV drives B-cell proliferation, which contributes to the pathogenesis of multiple lymphomas. Yet, knowledge of how EBV subverts host biosynthetic pathways to transform resting lymphocytes into activated lymphoblasts remains incomplete. Using a temporal proteomic dataset of EBV primary human B-cell infection, we identified that cholesterol and fatty acid biosynthetic pathways were amongst the most highly EBV induced. Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA2), sterol response element binding protein (SREBP) and MYC each had important roles in cholesterol and fatty acid pathway induction. Unexpectedly, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor chemical epistasis experiments revealed that mevalonate pathway production of geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP), rather than cholesterol, was necessary for EBV-driven B-cell outgrowth, perhaps because EBV upregulated the low-density lipoprotein receptor in newly infected cells for cholesterol uptake. Chemical and CRISPR genetic analyses highlighted downstream GGPP roles in EBV-infected cell small G protein Rab activation. Rab13 was highly EBV-induced in an EBNA3-dependent manner and served as a chaperone critical for latent membrane protein (LMP) 1 and 2A trafficking and target gene activation in newly infected and in lymphoblastoid B-cells. Collectively, these studies identify highlight multiple potential therapeutic targets for prevention of EBV-transformed B-cell growth and survival.