Metabolic reprogramming: a hallmark of viral oncogenesis

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Abstract

More than 1 in 10 cases of cancer in the world are due to chronic viral infections. Viruses induce oncogenesis by targeting the same pathways known to be responsible for neoplasia in tumor cells, such as control of cell cycle progression, cell migration, proliferation and evasion from cell death and the host's immune defense. In addition, metabolic reprogramming has been identified over a century ago as a requirement for growth of transformed cells. Renewed interest in this topic has emerged recently with the discovery that basically all metabolic changes in tumor cells are finely orchestrated by oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Indeed, cancer cells activate biosynthetic pathways in order to provide them with sufficient levels of energy and building blocks to proliferate. Interestingly, viruses introduce into their host cells similar metabolic adaptations, and importantly, it seems that they depend on these changes for their persistence and amplification. The central carbon metabolism, for example, is not only frequently altered in tumor cells but also modulated by human papillomavirus, hepatitis B and C viruses, Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's Sarcoma-associated virus. Moreover, adenoviruses (Ad) and human cytomegalovirus, which are not directly oncogenic but present oncomodulatory properties, also divert cellular metabolism in a tumor cell-like mnner. Thus, metabolic reprogramming appears to be a hallmark of viral infection and provides an interesting therapeutic target, in particular, for oncogenic viruses. Therapeutic targeting of metabolic pathways may not only allow to eliminate or control the viral infection but also to prevent virus-induced carcinogenesis.

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