Rubella viruses shift cellular bioenergetics to a more oxidative and glycolytic phenotype with a strain-specific requirement for glutamine

Nicole C. Bilz, Kristin Jahn, Mechthild Lorenz, Anja Lüdtke, Judith M. Hübschen, Henriette Geyer, Annette Mankertz, Denise Hübner, Uwe G. Liebert, Claudia Claus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


The flexible regulation of cellular metabolic pathways enables cellular adaptation to changes in energy demand under conditions of stress such as posed by a virus infection. To analyze such an impact on cellular metabolism, rubella virus (RV) was used in this study. RV replication under selected substrate supplementation with glucose, pyruvate, and glutamine as essential nutrients for mammalian cells revealed its requirement for glutamine. The assessment of the mitochondrial respiratory (based on the oxygen consumption rate) and glycolytic (based on the extracellular acidification rate) rate and capacity by respective stress tests through Seahorse technology enabled determination of the bioenergetic phenotype of RV-infected cells. Irrespective of the cellular metabolic background, RV infection induced a shift of the bioenergetic state of epithelial cells (Vero and A549) and human umbilical vein endothelial cells to a higher oxidative and glycolytic level. Interestingly there was a RV strain-specific, but genotype-independent demand for glutamine to induce a significant increase in metabolic activity. While glutaminolysis appeared to be rather negligible for RV replication, glutamine could serve as donor of its amide nitrogen in biosynthesis pathways for important metabolites. This study suggests that the capacity of RVs to induce metabolic alterations could evolve differently during natural infection. Thus, changes in cellular bioenergetics represent an important component of virus-host interactions and could complement our understanding of the viral preference for a distinct host cell population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00934-18
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


  • 2-deoxyglucose
  • ECAR
  • Extracellular acidification rate
  • Extracellular flux analysis
  • Glucose uptake
  • Glutaminolysis
  • Glycolysis
  • Kynurenine pathway
  • Metabolic phenotype
  • Mitochondrial respiration
  • Nucleotide biosynthesis
  • OCR
  • Oxygen consumption rate
  • Rubella virus


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