Microbiology Spectrum (Dec 2022)

ISG15 Is a Novel Regulator of Lipid Metabolism during Vaccinia Virus Infection

  • Manuel Albert,
  • Jesús Vázquez,
  • Juan M. Falcón-Pérez,
  • María A. Balboa,
  • Marc Liesa,
  • Jesús Balsinde,
  • Susana Guerra

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 10, no. 6


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ABSTRACT Interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15) is a 15-kDa ubiquitin-like modifier that binds to target proteins in a process termed ISGylation. ISG15, first described as an antiviral molecule against many viruses, participates in numerous cellular processes, from immune modulation to the regulation of genome stability. Interestingly, the role of ISG15 as a regulator of cell metabolism has recently gained strength. We previously described ISG15 as a regulator of mitochondrial functions in bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) in the context of Vaccinia virus (VACV) infection. Here, we demonstrate that ISG15 regulates lipid metabolism in BMDMs and that ISG15 is necessary to modulate the impact of VACV infection on lipid metabolism. We show that Isg15−/− BMDMs demonstrate alterations in the levels of several key proteins of lipid metabolism that result in differences in the lipid profile compared with Isg15+/+ (wild-type [WT]) BMDMs. Specifically, Isg15−/− BMDMs present reduced levels of neutral lipids, reflected by decreased lipid droplet number. These alterations are linked to increased levels of lipases and are independent of enhanced fatty acid oxidation (FAO). Moreover, we demonstrate that VACV causes a dysregulation in the proteomes of BMDMs and alterations in the lipid content of these cells, which appear exacerbated in Isg15−/− BMDMs. Such metabolic changes are likely caused by increased expression of the metabolic regulators peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-γ (PPARγ) and PPARγ coactivator-1α (PGC-1α). In summary, our results highlight that ISG15 controls BMDM lipid metabolism during viral infections, suggesting that ISG15 is an important host factor to restrain VACV impact on cell metabolism. IMPORTANCE The functions of ISG15 are continuously expanding, and growing evidence supports its role as a relevant modulator of cell metabolism. In this work, we highlight how the absence of ISG15 impacts macrophage lipid metabolism in the context of viral infections and how poxviruses modulate metabolism to ensure successful replication. Our results open the door to new advances in the comprehension of macrophage immunometabolism and the interaction between VACV and the host.