Positive-sense RNA viruses, such as dengue virus (DENV), hijack the intracellular membrane machinery for their own replication. The Rab18 protein, a member of the Rab GTPase family, key regulators of membrane trafficking, is located on the organelles involved in DENV infection, such as the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and lipid droplets (LDs). In this study, we addressed the potential involvement of Rab18 in DENV infection by using cells overexpressing the wild-type, GTP-bound active form, or GDP-bound inactive form of Rab18 and cells with Rab18 knockdown. DENV replication, measured by viral protein, viral RNA, and viral progeny production, as well as LD induction, was reduced in cells with inactive Rab18 and in cells deprived of Rab18 expression, suggesting a positive role of Rab18 in the DENV life cycle. Interestingly, the interaction of fatty acid synthase (FASN), a key lipogenic enzyme in lipid biosynthesis, with DENV NS3 protein relied on the conversion of the GDP-bound to the GTP-bound form of Rab18. Furthermore, the targeting of FASN to sites participating in DENV infection, such as the ER and LDs, depends on functional Rab18. Thus, Rab18-mediated membrane trafficking of FASN and NS3 facilitates DENV replication, probably by ensuring a sufficient and coordinated lipid supply for membrane proliferation and arrangement.
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