Cell Host & Microbe Journal highlights recent discovery from the Cristea Lab

Posted on October 25, 2018

A surreal illustration that captures this process of peroxisome modulation during viral infection. Artwork Carla Vendrell

The cover of the Cell Host & Microbe journal this month highlights the recent discovery from the Cristea group that infection-induced peroxisome biogenesis is a metabolic strategy for the benefit of viral replication (https://www.cell.com/cell-host-microbe/current). Peroxisomes are cellular organelles with essential functions for human health, such as lipid production, fatty acid oxidation, detoxification, and intracellular signaling. This study demonstrates that enveloped viruses upregulate peroxisome biogenesis, altering peroxisome morphology by increasing the membrane-to-lumen ratio. This in turn induces peroxisome-mediated synthesis of lipids called plasmalogens, which enhances virus infectivity at the step of virus assembly. Therefore, these findings shift the paradigm that peroxisomes function predominantly in antiviral response during infection. Additionally, this study describes an integrated mathematical modeling and live cell microscopy method for measuring the rates of the processes that control peroxisome biogenesis in mammalian cells (de novo biogenesis, fission and pexophagy). This allows addressing several outstanding questions regarding peroxisome biology by defining the relationship between peroxisome morphology, biogenesis, and metabolic function in a context of cellular pathology. The members of the Cristea group who have carried out this study are Pierre Jean Beltran, Katelyn Cook, Yutaka Hashimoto and Laura Murray. The development of the statistical inference method to determine peroxisome biogenesis rates was performed in collaboration with Cyril Galitzine and Olga Vitek at Northeastern University.