Tupaias, or tree shrews, are small mammals that are similar in appearance to squirrels. The morphological and behavioral characteristics of the group have been extensively characterized, and despite previously being classified as primates, recent studies have placed the group in its own family, the Tupaiidae. Genomic analysis has revealed that the genus Tupaia is closer to humans than it is to rodents. In addition, tupaias are susceptible to hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus. The only other experimental animal that has been demonstrated to be sensitive to both of these viruses is the chimpanzee, but restrictions on animal testing have meant that experiments using chimpanzees have become almost impossible. Consequently, the development of the tupaia for use as an animal infection model could become a powerful tool for hepatitis virus research and in preclinical studies on drug development.
Cyclosporine A (CsA) is an immunosuppressive drug that targets cyclophilins, cellular cofactors that regulate the immune system. Replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is suppressed by CsA, but the molecular basis of this suppression is still not fully understood. To investigate this suppression, we cultured HCV replicon cells (Con1, HCV genotype 1b, FLR-N cell) in the presence of CsA and obtained nine CsA-resistant FLR-N cell lines. We determined full-length HCV sequences for all nine clones, and chose two (clones #6 and #7) of the nine clones that have high replication activity in the presence of CsA for further analysis. Both clones showed two consensus mutations, one in NS3 (T1280V) and the other in NS5A (D2292E). Characterization of various mutants indicated that the D2292E mutation conferred resistance to high concentrations of CsA (up to 2 ?M). In addition, the missense mutation T1280V contributed to the recovery of colony formation activity. The effects of these mutations are also evident in two established HCV replicon cell lines-HCV-RMT (, genotype 1a) and JFH1 (genotype 2a). Moreover, three other missense mutations in NS5A-D2303H, S2362G, and E2414K-enhanced the resistance to CsA conferred by D2292E; these double or all quadruple mutants could resist approximately 8- to 25-fold higher concentrations of CsA than could wild-type Con1. These four mutations, either as single or combinations, also made Con1 strain resistant to two other cyclophilin inhibitors, N-methyl-4-isoleucine-cyclosporin (NIM811) or Debio-025. Interestingly, the changes in IC50 values that resulted from each of these mutations were the lowest in the Debio-025-treated cells, indicating its highest resistant activity against the adaptive mutation.
The development of RNA interference (RNAi)-based therapy faces two major obstacles: selecting small interfering RNA (siRNA) sequences with strong activity, and identifying a carrier that allows efficient delivery to target organs. Additionally, conservative region at nucleotide level must be targeted for RNAi in applying to virus because hepatitis C virus (HCV) could escape from therapeutic pressure with genome mutations. In vitro preparation of Dicer-generated siRNAs targeting a conserved, highly ordered HCV 5' untranslated region are capable of inducing strong RNAi activity. By dissecting the 5'-end of an RNAi-mediated cleavage site in the HCV genome, we identified potent siRNA sequences, which we designate as Dicer-hunting siRNAs (dh-siRNAs). Furthermore, formulation of the dh-siRNAs in an optimized multifunctional envelope-type nano device inhibited ongoing infectious HCV replication in human hepatocytes in vivo. Our efforts using both identification of optimal siRNA sequences and delivery to human hepatocytes suggest therapeutic potential of siRNA for a virus.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) poses a threat to global public health mainly because of complications of HBV-related chronic liver disease. HBV exhibits a narrow host range, replicating primarily in hepatocytes by a still poorly understood mechanism. For the generation of progeny virions, HBV depends on interactions with specific host factors through its life cycle. Revealing and characterizing these interactions are keys to identifying novel antiviral targets, and to developing specific treatment strategies for HBV patients. In this review, recent insights into the HBV-host interactions, especially on virus entry, intracellular trafficking, genome transcription and replication, budding and release, and even cellular restriction factors were reviewed.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a causative agent of chronic hepatitis. Although the standard therapy for HCV-infected patients consists of pegylated interferon plus ribavirin, this treatment is associated with serious side effects and high costs, and fails in some patients infected with specific HCV genotypes. To address this problem, we are developing small-molecule inhibitors of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) as novel anti-HCV drug candidates. Previous data showed that HCV replication is inhibited by retinoblastoma protein, which is itself inactivated by CDK-mediated phosphorylation. Here, we report that CDK inhibitors suppress HCV replication in vitro and in vivo, and that CDK4 is required for efficient HCV replication. These findings shed light on the development of novel anti-HCV drugs that target host factors.
While the 2002-2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) resulted in 774 deaths, patients who were affected with mild pulmonary symptoms successfully recovered. The objective of the present work was to identify, using SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) mouse infection models, immune factors responsible for clearing of the virus. The elimination of pulmonary SARS-CoV infection required the activation of B cells by CD4(+) T cells. Furthermore, passive immunization (post-infection) with homologous (murine) anti-SARS-CoV antiserum showed greater elimination efficacy against SARS-CoV than that with heterologous (rabbit) antiserum, despite the use of equivalent titers of neutralizing antibodies. This distinction was mediated by mouse phagocytic cells (monocyte-derived infiltrating macrophages and partially alveolar macrophages, but not neutrophils), as demonstrated both by adoptive transfer from donors and by immunological depletion of selected cell types. These results indicate that the cooperation of anti-SARS-CoV antibodies and phagocytic cells plays an important role in the elimination of SARS-CoV.
Nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) serves dual functions in viral RNA replication and virus assembly. Here, we demonstrate that HCV replication complex along with NS5A and Core protein was transported to the lipid droplet (LD) through microtubules, and NS5A-Core complexes were then transported from LD through early-to-late endosomes to the plasma membrane via microtubules. Further studies by cofractionation analysis and immunoelectron microscopy of the released particles showed that NS5A-Core complexes, but not NS4B, were present in the low-density fractions, but not in the high-density fractions, of the HCV RNA-containing virions and associated with the internal virion core. Furthermore, exosomal markers CD63 and CD81 were also detected in the low-density fractions, but not in the high-density fractions. Overall, our results suggest that HCV NS5A is associated with the core of the low-density virus particles which exit the cell through a preexisting endosome/exosome pathway and may contribute to HCV natural infection.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection leads to the development of hepatic diseases, as well as extrahepatic disorders such as B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (B-NHL). To reveal the molecular signalling pathways responsible for HCV-associated B-NHL development, we utilised transgenic (Tg) mice that express the full-length HCV genome specifically in B cells and develop non-Hodgkin type B-cell lymphomas (BCLs). The gene expression profiles in B cells from BCL-developing HCV-Tg mice, from BCL-non-developing HCV-Tg mice, and from BCL-non-developing HCV-negative mice were analysed by genome-wide microarray. In BCLs from HCV-Tg mice, the expression of various genes was modified, and for some genes, expression was influenced by the gender of the animals. Markedly modified genes such as Fos, C3, LT?R, A20, NF-?B and miR-26b in BCLs were further characterised using specific assays. We propose that activation of both canonical and alternative NF-?B signalling pathways and down-regulation of miR-26b contribute to the development of HCV-associated B-NHL.
Most of the people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) develop chronic hepatitis, which in some cases progresses to cirrhosis and ultimately to hepatocellular carcinoma. Although various immunotherapies against the progressive disease status of HCV infection have been studied, a preventive or therapeutic vaccine against this pathogen is still not available. In this study, we constructed a DNA vaccine expressing an HCV structural protein (CN2), non-structural protein (N25) or the empty plasmid DNA as a control and evaluated their efficacy as a candidate HCV vaccine in C57BL/6 and novel genetically modified HCV infection model (HCV-Tg) mice. Strong cellular immune responses to several HCV structural and non-structural proteins, characterized by cytotoxicity and interferon-gamma (IFN-?) production, were observed in CN2 or N25 DNA vaccine-immunized C57BL/6 mice but not in empty plasmid DNA-administered mice. The therapeutic effects of these DNA vaccines were also examined in HCV-Tg mice that conditionally express HCV proteins in their liver. Though a reduction in cellular immune responses was observed in HCV-Tg mice, there was a significant decrease in the expression of HCV protein in mice administered the N25 DNA vaccine but not in mice administered the empty plasmid DNA. Moreover, both CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells were required for the decrease of HCV protein in the liver. We found that the N25 DNA vaccine improved pathological changes in the liver compared to the empty plasmid DNA. Thus, these DNA vaccines, especially that expressing the non-structural protein gene, may be an alternative approach for treatment of individuals chronically infected with HCV.
Host cell lipid rafts form a scaffold required for replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Serine palmitoyltransferases (SPTs) produce sphingolipids, which are essential components of the lipid rafts that associate with HCV nonstructural proteins. Prevention of the de novo synthesis of sphingolipids by an SPT inhibitor disrupts the HCV replication complex and thereby inhibits HCV replication. We investigated the ability of the SPT inhibitor NA808 to prevent HCV replication in cells and mice.
Background. In situ hybridization (ISH) with high sensitivity has been requested to demonstrate hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) sections of the liver. Methods. ISH employing a locked-nucleic-acid- (LNA-)modified oligonucleotide probe and biotin-free catalyzed signal amplification system (CSAII) was applied to HCV-RNA detection in the liver tissue. Nested reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed for HCV genotyping using total RNA extracted from FFPE sections. The target tissues included FFPE tissue sections of humanized livers in HCV-infected chimeric mice (HCV genotypes 1a, 1b, and 2a and noninfected) and of needle-biopsied livers from HCV-infected patients. Results. HCV-RNA was demonstrated with the ISH technique in HCV-infected liver tissues from both chimeric mice and 9 (82%) of 11 patients with HCV infection. The HCV signals were sensitive to RNase. Nested RT-PCR confirmed the genotype in 8 (73%) of 11 livers (type 1b: 6 lesions and type 2a: 2 lesions). HCV-RNA was not identified in chronic hepatitis B lesions, fatty liver, autoimmune hepatitis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Conclusion. ISH using the LNA-modified oligonucleotide probe and CSAII was applicable to detecting HCV-RNA in routinely prepared FFPE liver specimens.
4E Binding protein 1 (4E-BP1) suppresses translation initiation. The absence of 4E-BP1 drastically reduces the amount of adipose tissue in mice. To address the role of 4E-BP1 in adipocyte differentiation, we characterized 4E-BP1(-/-) mice in this study. The lack of 4E-BP1 decreased the amount of white adipose tissue and increased the amount of brown adipose tissue. In 4E-BP1(-/-) MEF cells, PPAR? coactivator 1 alpha (PGC-1?) expression increased and exogenous 4E-BP1 expression suppressed PGC-1? expression. The level of 4E-BP1 expression was higher in white adipocytes than in brown adipocytes and showed significantly greater up-regulation in white adipocytes than in brown adipocytes during preadipocyte differentiation into mature adipocytes. The amount of PGC-1? was consistently higher in HB cells (a brown preadipocyte cell line) than in HW cells (a white preadipocyte cell line) during differentiation. Moreover, the ectopic over-expression of 4E-BP1 suppressed PGC-1? expression in white adipocytes, but not in brown adipocytes. Thus, the results of our study indicate that 4E-BP1 may suppress brown adipocyte differentiation and PGC-1? expression in white adipose tissues.
Patients infected with highly pathogenic avian influenza A H5N1 viruses (H5N1 HPAIV) show diffuse alveolar damage. However, the temporal progression of tissue damage and repair after viral infection remains poorly defined. Therefore, we assessed the sequential histopathological characteristics of mouse lung after intranasal infection with H5N1 HPAIV or H1N1 2009 pandemic influenza virus (H1N1 pdm). We determined the amount and localization of virus in the lung through IHC staining and in situ hybridization. IHC used antibodies raised against the virus protein and antibodies specific for macrophages, type II pneumocytes, or proliferating cell nuclear antigen. In situ hybridization used RNA probes against both viral RNA and mRNA encoding the nucleoprotein and the hemagglutinin protein. H5N1 HPAIV infection and replication were observed in multiple lung cell types and might result in rapid progression of lung injury. Both type II pneumocytes and macrophages proliferated after H5N1 HPAIV infection. However, the abundant macrophages failed to block the viral attack, and proliferation of type II pneumocytes failed to restore the damaged alveoli. In contrast, mice infected with H1N1 pdm exhibited modest proliferation of type II pneumocytes and macrophages and slight alveolar damage. These results suggest that the virulence of H5N1 HPAIV results from the wide range of cell tropism of the virus, excessive virus replication, and rapid development of diffuse alveolar damage.
The interferon (IFN) system plays a critical role in innate antiviral response. We presume that targeted induction of IFN in human liver shows robust antiviral effects on hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV).
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) continues to threaten human health. Non-human primate infection models of human influenza are desired. To establish an animal infection model with more natural transmission and to determine the pathogenicity of HPAIV isolated from a wild water bird in primates, we administered a Japanese isolate of HPAIV (A/whooper swan/Hokkaido/1/2008, H5N1 clade 22.214.171.124) to rhesus and cynomolgus monkeys, in droplet form, via the intratracheal route. Infection of the lower and upper respiratory tracts and viral shedding were observed in both macaques. Inoculation of rhesus monkeys with higher doses of the isolate resulted in stronger clinical symptoms of influenza. Our results demonstrate that HPAIV isolated from a water bird in Japan is pathogenic in monkeys by experimental inoculation, and provide a new method for HPAIV infection of non-human primate hosts, a good animal model for investigation of HPAIV pathogenicity.
Multiple genotype 1a clones have been reported, including the very first hepatitis C virus (HCV) clone called H77. The replication ability of some of these clones has been confirmed in vitro and in vivo, although this ability is somehow compromised. We now report a newly isolated genotype 1a clone, designated HCV-RMT, which has the ability to replicate efficiently in patients, chimeric mice with humanized liver, and cultured cells. An authentic subgenomic replicon cell line was established from the HCV-RMT sequence with spontaneous introduction of three adaptive mutations, which were later confirmed to be responsible for efficient replication in HuH-7 cells as both subgenomic replicon RNA and viral genome RNA. Following transfection, the HCV-RMT RNA genome with three adaptive mutations was maintained for more than 2 months in HuH-7 cells. One clone selected from the transfected cells had a high copy number, and its supernatant could infect naïve HuH-7 cells. Direct injection of wild-type HCV-RMT RNA into the liver of chimeric mice with humanized liver resulted in vigorous replication, similar to inoculation with the parental patients serum. A study of virus replication using HCV-RMT derivatives with various combinations of adaptive mutations revealed a clear inversely proportional relationship between in vitro and in vivo replication abilities. Thus, we suggest that HCV-RMT and its derivatives are important tools for HCV genotype 1a research and for determining the mechanism of HCV replication in vitro and in vivo.
Immunochromatography (IC) is an antigen-detection assay that plays an important role in the rapid diagnosis of influenza virus because the protocol is short time and easy to use. Despite the usability of IC, the sensitivity is approximately 10(3) pfu per reaction. In addition, antigen-antibody interaction-based method cannot be used for the detection of influenza viruses with major antigenic change. In this study, we established the use of fluorescent immunochromatography (FLIC) to detect a broad spectrum of H5 subtype influenza A viruses. This method has improved sensitivity 10-100 fold higher than traditional IC because of the use of fluorescent conjugated beads. Our Type-E FLIC kit detected all of the H5 subtype influenza viruses that were examined, as well as recombinant hemagglutinin (HA) proteins (rHAs) belonging to the Eurasian H5 subtype viruses and the Type-N diagnosed North American H5 subtype influenza A viruses. Thus, this kit has the improved potential to detect H5 subtype influenza viruses of different clades with both Type-E and Type-N FLIC kits. Compared with PCR-based diagnosis, FLIC has a strong advantage in usability, because the sample preparation required for FLIC is only mix-and-drop without any additional steps such as RNA extraction. Our results can provide new strategies against the spread and transmission of HPAI H5N1 viruses in birds and mammals including humans.
We recently established a monoclonal antibody (2-152a MAb) that binds to 3?-hydroxysterol-?24-reductase (DHCR24) by immunizing mice with cells (RzM6-LC) persistently expressing hepatitis C virus (HCV). Here, we aimed to analyze the activity of 2-152a MAb against HCV replication and explore the molecular mechanism underlying the antiviral activity.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) elevated expression of the translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 70 (Tom70). Interestingly, overexpression of Tom70 induces interferon (IFN) synthesis in hepatocytes, and it was impaired by HCV. Here, we addressed the mechanism of this impairment. The HCV NS3/4A protein induced Tom70 expression. The HCV NS3 protein interacted in cells, and cleaved the adapter protein mitochondrial anti-viral signaling (MAVS). Ectopic overexpression of Tom70 could not inhibit this cleavage. As a result, IRF-3 phosphorylation was impaired and IFN-? induction was suppressed. These results indicate that MAVS works upstream of Tom70 and the cleavage of MAVS by HCV NS3 protease suppresses signaling of IFN induction.
We previously established inducible-hepatitis C virus (HCV) transgenic mice, which expressed the HCV gene (nucleotides 294-3435) encoding the core, E1, E2, and NS2 proteins. The expression of these proteins is regulated by the Cre/loxP system and an adenovirus vector (AdV) that expresses Cre DNA recombinase (Cre) controlled by the CAG promoter (AxCANCre). Recent studies have demonstrated that AxCANCre injection alone results in severe liver injury by induction of the adenovirus protein IX (Ad-pIX) gene. As a result, HCV protein expression in transgenic mice livers was only short-term. In contrast, the EF1? promoter-bearing AdV induces slight Ad-pIX gene expression without inducing severe liver injury. Therefore, in the present study, we developed a Cre-expressing AdV that bears the EF1? promoter (AxEFCre) to express HCV protein in the transgenic mouse livers. In the non-transgenic mice injected with AxCANCre, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels were elevated and severe liver inflammation occurred; this was not observed in AxEFCre-injected mice. In contrast, AxEFCre-injected HCV transgenic mice showed milder liver inflammatory responses that were clearly due to HCV protein expression. Moreover, the AxEFCre injection enabled the transgenic mice to persistently express HCV protein. These results indicate that use of AxEFCre efficiently promotes Cre-mediated DNA recombination in vivo without a severe hepatitis response to AdV. This inducible-HCV transgenic mouse model using AxEFCre should be useful for research on HCV pathogenesis.
B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a typical extrahepatic manifestation frequently associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The mechanism by which HCV infection leads to lymphoproliferative disorder remains unclear. Our group established HCV transgenic mice that expressed the full HCV genome in B cells (RzCD19Cre mice). We observed a 25.0% incidence of diffuse large B cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (22.2% in male and 29.6% in female mice) within 600 days of birth. Interestingly, RzCD19Cre mice with substantially elevated serum-soluble interleukin-2 receptor ?-subunit (sIL-2R?) levels (>1000?pg/mL) developed B cell lymphomas. Another mouse model of lymphoproliferative disorder was established by persistent expression of HCV structural proteins through disruption of interferon regulatory factor-1 (irf-1(_/_)/CN2 mice). Irf-1(_/_)/CN2 mice showed extremely high incidences of lymphomas and lymphoproliferative disorders. Moreover, these mice showed increased levels of interleukin (IL)-2, IL-10, and Bcl-2 as well as increased Bcl-2 expression, which promoted oncogenic transformation of lymphocytes.
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects approximately 170 million people and is a major global health problem because infected individuals can develop liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Despite significant improvements in antiviral drugs, only around 50% of treated patients with genotype 1 and 4 demonstrate HCV clearance. Unfortunately, an anti-HCV vaccine is still not available. To progress treatment of HCV, it is necessary to understand the mechanism(s) by which HCV infects hepatocytes, and how the host immune response prevents the spread of the virus. Because HCV infects only humans and chimpanzees, it is difficult to evaluate immune response mechanisms, and the effects of chemicals and new technologies on these response mechanisms. These difficulties underline the importance of establishing a small HCV-infected animal model. This review focuses on the progress made in recent years towards the development of an experimental mouse model for HCV.
The localization of hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins in cells leads to several problems. The translocase of outer mitochondrial membrane 70 (TOM70) is a mitochondrial import receptor. In this study, TOM70 expression was induced by HCV infection. TOM70 overexpression induced resistance to tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-?)-mediated apoptosis but not to Fas-induced apoptosis in HepG2 cells. TOM70 was found to be induced by the HCV non-structural protein (NS)3/4A protein, and silencing of TOM70 decreased the levels of the NS3 and Mcl-1 proteins. These results indicate that TOM70 can directly interact with the NS3 protein. In hepatoma cells, silencing of TOM70 induced apoptosis and increased caspase-3/7 activity but did not modify caspase-8 and caspase-9 activity. TOM70 silencing-induced apoptosis was impaired in HCV NS3/4A protein-expressing cells. Thus, this study revealed a novel finding, that is, TOM70 is linked with the NS3 protein and the apoptotic response.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replicon systems enable in-depth analysis of the life cycle of HCV. However, the previously reported full-genome replicon system is unable to produce authentic virions. On the basis of these results, we constructed newly designed full-genomic replicon RNA, which is composed of the intact 5-terminal-half RNA extending to the NS2 region flanked by an extra selection marker gene. Huh-7 cells harboring this full-genomic RNA proliferated well under G418 selection and secreted virion-like particles into the supernatant. These particles, which were round and 50 nm in diameter when analyzed by electron microscopy, had a buoyant density of 1.08 g/mL that shifted to 1.19 g/mL after NP-40 treatment; these figures match the putative densities of intact virions and nucleocapsids without envelope. The particles also showed infectivity in a colony-forming assay. This system may offer another option for investigating the life cycle of HCV.
Small interfering RNA (siRNA) is a noncoding RNA with considerable potential as a new therapeutic drug for intractable diseases. siRNAs can be rationally designed and synthesized if the sequences of the disease-causing genes are known. In this paper, we describe the synthesis and properties of siRNAs modified with biaryl units. We found that incorporation of biaryl units into the 5 and 3 ends of sense and antisense strands of siRNA duplexes improved strand selectivity and nuclease resistance.
Although the innate immune system has been demonstrated to play important roles as the first line of defense against various infections, little is known about the interactions between intrahepatic inflammatory cells and the cytokine network in the liver. Here, we examined the role of IL-18 in IHL recruitment in acute liver injury. C57BL/6 mice were injected with an ?CD40 mAb, and their serum IL-18 levels were observed to increase, with subsequent recruitment of IHLs into the liver. NKT cells were involved in this liver injury, as the serum ALT levels were reduced in NKT KO mice through the suppression of macrophage and monocyte migration and cytokine production. In contrast, depletion of neutrophils exacerbated the liver injury associated with high levels of TNF-? and IL-18 and increased numbers of macrophages and monocytes. Treatment with a neutralizing antibody against IL-18 reduced the serum ALT levels and inflammatory cell accumulation in the liver. Finally, additional administration of rIL-18 with ?CD40 injection caused severe liver injury with increased IFN-? production by NK cells. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate that IL-18 modulates liver inflammation by the recruitment of inflammatory cells, including NKT cells, macrophages, monocytes, and neutrophils.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and infection depend on the lipid components of the cell, and replication is inhibited by inhibitors of sphingomyelin biosynthesis. We found that sphingomyelin bound to and activated genotype 1b RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) by enhancing its template binding activity. Sphingomyelin also bound to 1a and JFH1 (genotype 2a) RdRps but did not activate them. Sphingomyelin did not bind to or activate J6CF (2a) RdRp. The sphingomyelin binding domain (SBD) of HCV RdRp was mapped to the helix-turn-helix structure (residues 231 to 260), which was essential for sphingomyelin binding and activation. Helix structures (residues 231 to 241 and 247 to 260) are important for RdRp activation, and 238S and 248E are important for maintaining the helix structures for template binding and RdRp activation by sphingomyelin. 241Q in helix 1 and the negatively charged 244D at the apex of the turn are important for sphingomyelin binding. Both amino acids are on the surface of the RdRp molecule. The polarity of the phosphocholine of sphingomyelin is important for HCV RdRp activation. However, phosphocholine did not activate RdRp. Twenty sphingomyelin molecules activated one RdRp molecule. The biochemical effect of sphingomyelin on HCV RdRp activity was virologically confirmed by the HCV replicon system. We also found that the SBD was the lipid raft membrane localization domain of HCV NS5B because JFH1 (2a) replicon cells harboring NS5B with the mutation A242C/S244D moved to the lipid raft while the wild type did not localize there. This agreed with the myriocin sensitivity of the mutant replicon. This sphingomyelin interaction is a target for HCV infection because most HCV RdRps have 241Q.
Although PCR-based in situ hybridization (PCR-ISH) can be used to determine the distribution and localization of pathogens in tissues, this approach is hampered by its low specificity. Therefore, we used a highly specific and sensitive PCR-ISH method to reveal the lobular distribution and intracellular localization of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and HCV in chronic liver disease and to clarify the state of persistent HBV and HCV infection in the liver. HBV genomic DNA was detected in almost all hepatocytes, whereas HBV RNA or protein was differentially distributed only in a subset of the HBV DNA-positive region. Further, HCV genomic RNA was detected in almost all hepatocytes and was localized to the cytoplasm. HCV RNA was also detected in the epithelium of the large bile duct but not in endothelial cells, portal tracts, or sinusoidal lymphocytes. In patients with HBV and HCV coinfection, HCV RNA was localized to the noncancerous tissue, whereas HBV DNA was found only in the cancerous tissue. Using this novel PCR-ISH method, we could visualize the staining pattern of HBV and HCV in liver sections, and we obtained results consistent with those of real-time detection (RTD)-PCR analysis. In conclusion, almost all hepatocytes are infected with HBV or HCV in chronic liver disease; this finding implies that the viruses spreads throughout the liver in the chronic stage.
Extrahepatic manifestations of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection occur in 40%-70% of HCV-infected patients. B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a typical extrahepatic manifestation frequently associated with HCV infection. The mechanism by which HCV infection of B cells leads to lymphoma remains unclear. Here we established HCV transgenic mice that express the full HCV genome in B cells (RzCD19Cre mice) and observed a 25.0% incidence of diffuse large B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphomas (22.2% in males and 29.6% in females) within 600 days after birth. Expression levels of aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase, as well as 32 different cytokines, chemokines and growth factors, were examined. The incidence of B-cell lymphoma was significantly correlated with only the level of soluble interleukin-2 receptor ? subunit (sIL-2R?) in RzCD19Cre mouse serum. All RzCD19Cre mice with substantially elevated serum sIL-2R? levels (> 1000 pg/mL) developed B-cell lymphomas. Moreover, compared with tissues from control animals, the B-cell lymphoma tissues of RzCD19Cre mice expressed significantly higher levels of IL-2R?. We show that the expression of HCV in B cells promotes non-Hodgkin-type diffuse B-cell lymphoma, and therefore, the RzCD19Cre mouse is a powerful model to study the mechanisms related to the development of HCV-associated B-cell lymphoma.
The mechanism of the innate immune response to hepatitis C virus (HCV) has not been fully elucidated, largely due to the lack of an appropriate model. We used HCV transgenic (Tg) mice, which express core, E1, E2, and NS2 proteins regulated by the Cre/loxP switching expression system, to examine the innate immune response to HCV structural proteins. Twelve hours after HCV transgene expression, HCV core protein levels in Tg mouse livers were 15-47 pg/mg. In contrast, in Tg mice with a depletion of natural killer (NK) cells, we observed much higher levels of HCV core proteins (1,597 pg/ml). Cre-mediated genomic DNA recombination efficiency in the HCV-Tg mice was strongly observed in NK cell-depleted mice between 0.5 and 1 day as compared to non-treated mice. These data indicated that NK cells participate in the elimination of core-expressing hepatocytes in the innate immune responses during the acute phase of HCV infection.
We characterized the role of 24-dehydrocholesterol reductase (DHCR24) in hepatitis C virus infection (HCV). DHCR24 is a cholesterol biosynthetic enzyme and cholesterol is a major component of lipid rafts, which is reported to play an important role in HCV replication. Therefore, we examined the potential of DHCR24 as a target for novel HCV therapeutic agents.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) persists chronically in most infected patients, eventually causing chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and in some cases hepatocellular carcinoma. The combination therapy of PEG-IFN and ribavirin improves efficacy in many patients, although it does not lead to sufficient achievements in genotype 1b patients. To aid in invention of new anti-HCV reagents, we focused on host factors that contributed to HCV lifecycle. We identified serine palmitoyltransferase inhibitor as an anti-HCV reagent through high-throughput screening using HCV replicon cells. We investigated the mechanism of anti-HCV effect of SPT inhibitor. It has been reported that sphingolipids and cholesterol compose the lipid raft where replication of HCV occurs. We investigated the influence of SPT inhibitor to lipid rafts by analyzing the detergent-resistant membrane (DRM). The analysis showed that SPT inhibitor moved HCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (NS5B) to detergent-soluble fraction from DRM, and Biacore analysis indicated binding of sphingomyelin to NS5B. These results suggest that SPT inhibitor disrupts the interaction between NS5B and sphingomyelin. Moreover, we evaluated the anti-HCV effect of SPT inhibitor in vivo with humanized chimeric mice. SPT inhibitor led to rapid decline in serum HCV-RNA of about 1-2 log within 8 days. Furthermore, combination therapy of SPT inhibitor and PEG-IFN achieved about 3 log reduction in serum HCV-RNA.
In this study, we infected NOD/Scid/Jak3null mice engrafted human peripheral blood leukocytes (hu-PBL-NOJ) with measles virus Edmonston B strain (MV-Edm) expressing hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope proteins (rMV-E1E2) to evaluate the immunogenicity as a vaccine candidate. Although human leukocytes could be isolated from the spleen of mock-infected mice during the 2-weeks experiment, the proportion of engrafted human leukocytes in mice infected with MV (10(3)-10(5)pfu) or rMV-E1E2 (10(4)pfu) was decreased. Viral infection of the splenocytes was confirmed by the development of cytopathic effects (CPEs) in co-cultures of splenocytes and B95a cells and verified using RT-PCR. Finally, human antibodies against MV were more frequently observed than E2-specific antibodies in serum from mice infected with a low dose of virus (MV, 10(0)-10(1)pfu, and rMV-E1E2, 10(1)-10(2)pfu). These results showed the possibility of hu-PBL-NOJ mice for the evaluation of the immunogenicity of viral proteins.
Persistent infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) induces tumorigenicity in hepatocytes. To gain insight into the mechanisms underlying this process, we generated monoclonal antibodies on a genome-wide scale against an HCV-expressing human hepatoblastoma-derived cell line, RzM6-LC, showing augmented tumorigenicity. We identified 3beta-hydroxysterol Delta24-reductase (DHCR24) from this screen and showed that its expression reflected tumorigenicity. HCV induced the DHCR24 overexpression in human hepatocytes. Ectopic or HCV-induced DHCR24 overexpression resulted in resistance to oxidative stress-induced apoptosis and suppressed p53 activity. DHCR24 overexpression in these cells paralleled the increased interaction between p53 and MDM2 (also known as HDM2), a p53-specific E3 ubiquitin ligase, in the cytoplasm. Persistent DHCR24 overexpression did not alter the phosphorylation status of p53 but resulted in decreased acetylation of p53 at lysine residues 373 and 382 in the nucleus after treatment with hydrogen peroxide. Taken together, these results suggest that DHCR24 is elevated in response to HCV infection and inhibits the p53 stress response by stimulating the accumulation of the MDM2-p53 complex in the cytoplasm and by inhibiting the acetylation of p53 in the nucleus.
The overall mortality of patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) has not been fully elucidated. This study analyzed mortality in subjects positive for antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) in a community-based, prospective cohort study conducted in an HCV hyperendemic area of Japan. During a 10-year period beginning in 1995, 1125 anti-HCV-seropositive residents of Town C were enrolled into the study and were followed for mortality through 2005. Cause of death was assessed by death certificates. Subjects with detectable HCV core antigen (HCVcAg) or HCV RNA were considered as having hepatitis C viremia and were classified as HCV carriers; subjects who were negative for both HCVcAg and HCV RNA (i.e., viremia-negative) were considered as having had a prior HCV infection and were classified as HCV noncarriers. Among the anti-HCV-positive subjects included in the analysis, 758 (67.4%) were HCV carriers, and 367 were noncarriers. A total of 231 deaths occurred in these subjects over a mean follow-up of 8.2 years: 176 deaths in the HCV carrier group and 55 in the noncarrier group. The overall mortality rate was higher in HCV carriers than in noncarriers, adjusted for age and sex (hazard ratio, 1.53; 95% confidence interval, 1.13-2.07). Although liver-related deaths occurred more frequently among the HCV carriers (hazard ratio, 5.94; 95% confidence interval, 2.58-13.7), the rates of other causes of death did not differ between HCV carriers and noncarriers. Among HCV carriers, a higher level of HCVcAg (>or=100 pg/mL) and persistently elevated alanine aminotransferase levels were important predictors of liver-related mortality. Conclusion: The presence of viremia increases the rate of mortality, primarily due to liver-related death, among anti-HCV-seropositive persons in Japan.
The molecular mechanisms of lymphoproliferation associated with the disruption of interferon (IFN) signaling and chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are poorly understood. Lymphomas are extrahepatic manifestations of HCV infection; we sought to clarify the molecular mechanisms of these processes.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) JFH1 efficiently replicates and produces infectious virus particles in cultured cells. We compared polymerase activity between JFH1 and 1b strains in vitro. The RNA polymerase activity of 1b was 6.4% of that of JFH1. In order to study the mechanism and identify domains responsible for the high polymerase activity of JFH1, we converted the amino acids of 1b RdRp to those of JFH1, and compared their Km, Vmax and template binding activity. Four amino acid mutations in the thumb domain of 1b RdRp, S377R, A450S, E455N and Y561F increased 1b polymerase activity, and their activity was 23.1, 45.8, 28.9, and 36.1% of JFH1, respectively. Vmax and RNA binding activity of JFH1, 1bwt and 1bA450S was JFH1 > 1bA450S > 1b, which indicated both high processivity and slightly higher template binding activity contributed to the high polymerase activity of JFH1.
RNA interference (RNAi) induced by small interfering RNA (siRNA) has emerged as a powerful technique for the silencing of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. It has been shown that in the RNAi machinery, the 3-overhang region of a guide strand (an antisense strand) of siRNA is recognized by the PAZ domain in the Argonaute protein, and the 2-nucleotide (nt) 3-overhang is accommodated into a binding pocket composed of hydrophobic amino acids in the PAZ domain. Based on this background information, we designed and synthesized siRNAs possessing aromatic compounds at their 3-overhang regions. It was found that the modified siRNAs possessing aromatic compounds are more potent than the siRNAs without the 3-overhang regions. Further, the silencing activities of the modified siRNAs are almost equal to those of normal siRNAs with natural nucleosides at their 3-overhang regions. We also found that the siRNAs possessing the aromatic compounds at their 3-overhang region could be used to inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Moreover, the RNAs with aromatic groups at their 3-ends were more resistant to nucleolytic degradation by snake venom phosphodiesterase (SVPD) (a 3-exonuclease) than natural RNAs. The aromatic compounds described in this report do not have functional groups capable of forming hydrogen bonds with nucleobases. Therefore, we expect that they can serve as the universal overhang units that can improve the nuclease resistance of siRNAs.
Chronic hepatitis C, which is caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV), is a global health problem. Using a mouse model of hepatitis C, we examined the therapeutic effects of a recombinant vaccinia virus (rVV) that encodes an HCV protein. We generated immunocompetent mice that each expressed multiple HCV proteins via a Cre/loxP switching system and established several distinct attenuated rVV strains. The HCV core protein was expressed consistently in the liver after polyinosinic acid-polycytidylic acid injection, and these mice showed chronic hepatitis C-related pathological findings (hepatocyte abnormalities, accumulation of glycogen, steatosis), liver fibrosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Immunization with one rVV strain (rVV-N25), which encoded nonstructural HCV proteins, suppressed serum inflammatory cytokine levels and alleviated the symptoms of pathological chronic hepatitis C within 7 days after injection. Furthermore, HCV protein levels in liver tissue also decreased in a CD4 and CD8 T-cell-dependent manner. Consistent with these results, we showed that rVV-N25 immunization induced a robust CD8 T-cell immune response that was specific to the HCV nonstructural protein 2. We also demonstrated that the onset of chronic hepatitis in CN2-29((+/-))/MxCre((+/-)) mice was mainly attributable to inflammatory cytokines, (tumor necrosis factor) TNF-? and (interleukin) IL-6. Thus, our generated mice model should be useful for further investigation of the immunological processes associated with persistent expression of HCV proteins because these mice had not developed immune tolerance to the HCV antigen. In addition, we propose that rVV-N25 could be developed as an effective therapeutic vaccine.
The influence of the intracellular redox state on the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle is poorly understood. This study demonstrated the anti-HCV activity of 2,3-dihydro-5-hydroxy-2,2-dipentyl-4,6-di-tert-butylbenzofuran (BO-653), a synthetic lipophilic antioxidant, and examined whether BO-653s antioxidant activity is integral to its anti-HCV activity. The anti-HCV activity of BO-653 was investigated in HuH-7 cells bearing an HCV subgenomic replicon (FLR3-1 cells) and in HuH-7 cells infected persistently with HCV (RMT-tri cells). BO-653 inhibition of HCV replication was also compared with that of several hydrophilic and lipophilic antioxidants. BO-653 suppressed HCV replication in FLR3-1 and RMT-tri cells in a concentration-dependent manner. The lipophilic antioxidants had stronger anti-HCV activities than the hydrophilic antioxidants, and BO-653 displayed the strongest anti-HCV activity of all the antioxidants examined. Therefore, the anti-HCV activity of BO-653 was examined in chimeric mice harboring human hepatocytes infected with HCV. The combination treatment of BO-653 and polyethylene glycol-conjugated interferon-? (PEG-IFN) decreased serum HCV RNA titer more than that seen with PEG-IFN alone. These findings suggest that both the lipophilic property and the antioxidant activity of BO-653 play an important role in the inhibition of HCV replication.
Recent studies have demonstrated that genetic polymorphisms near the IL28B gene are associated with the clinical outcome of pegylated interferon ? (peg-IFN-?) plus ribavirin therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). However, it is unclear whether genetic variations near the IL28B gene influence hepatic interferon (IFN)-stimulated gene (ISG) induction or cellular immune responses, lead to the viral reduction during IFN treatment.
Interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3), a key transcriptional factor in the type I interferon system, is frequently impaired by hepatitis C virus (HCV), in order to establish persistent infection. However, the exact mechanism by which the virus establishes persistent infection has not been fully understood yet. The present study aimed to investigate the effects of various HCV proteins on IRF-3 activation, and elucidate the underlying mechanisms. To achieve this, full-length HCV and HCV subgenomic constructs corresponding to structural and each of the nonstructural proteins were transiently transfected into HepG2 cells. IFN-? induction, plaque formation, and IRF-3 dimerization were elicited by Newcastle disease virus (NDV) infection. The expressions of IRF-3 homodimer and its monomer, Ser386-phosphorylated IRF-3, and HCV core protein were detected by immunofluorescence and western blotting. IFN-? mRNA expression was quantified by real-time PCR (RT-PCR), and IRF-3 activity was measured by the levels of IRF-3 dimerization and phosphorylation, induced by NDV infection or polyriboinosinic:polyribocytidylic acid [poly(I:C)]. Switching of the expression of the complete HCV genome as well as the core proteins, E1, E2, and NS2, suppressed IFN-? mRNA levels and IRF-3 dimerization, induced by NDV infection. Our study revealed a crucial region of the HCV core protein, basic amino acid region 1 (BR1), to inhibit IRF-3 dimerization as well as its phosphorylation induced by NDV infection and poly (I:C), thus interfering with IRF-3 activation. Therefore, our study suggests that rescue of the IRF-3 pathway impairment may be an effective treatment for HCV infection.
Chronic hepatitis C caused by infection with the hepatitis C virus(HCV)is a global health problem. HCV causes persistent infection that can lead to chronic liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. The therapeutic efficacy of antiviral drugs is not optimal in patients with chronic infection; furthermore, an effective vaccine has not yet been developed. To design an effective HCV vaccine, generation of a convenient animal model of HCV infection is necessary. Recently, we used the Cre/loxP switching system to generate an immunocompetent mouse model of HCV expression, thereby enabling the study of host immune responses against HCV proteins. At present vaccine has not yet been shown to be therapeutically effective against chronic HCV infection. We examined the therapeutic effects of a recombinant vaccinia virus(rVV)encoding HCV protein in a mouse model. we generated rVVs for 3 different HCV proteins and found that one of the recombinant viruses encoding a nonstructural protein(rVV-N25)resolved pathological chronic hepatitis C symptoms in the liver. We propose the possibility that rVV-N25 immunization has the potential for development of an effective therapeutic vaccine for HCV induced chronic hepatitis. The utilization of the therapeutic vaccine can protect progress to chronic hepatitis, and as a consequence, leads to eradication of hepatocellular carcinoma. In this paper, we summarized our current study for HCV therapeutic vaccine and review the vaccine development to date.
Patients with resolved hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection undergoing chemotherapy or immunosuppressive therapy are potentially at risk of HBV reactivation. However, it remains unclear how liver disease develops after HBV reactivation. To compare the host immune response against HBV, we performed immunological analyses of six HBV reactivation patients.
Cyclophilins (CyPs) are cellular proteins that are essential to hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Since cyclosporine A was discovered to inhibit HCV infection, the CyP pathway contributing to HCV replication is a potential attractive stratagem for controlling HCV infection. Among them, CyPA is accepted to interact with HCV nonstructural protein (NS) 5A, although interaction of CyPB and NS5B, an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp), was proposed first.
Lipids are key components in the viral life cycle that affect host-pathogen interactions. In this study, we investigated the effect of HCV infection on sphingolipid metabolism, especially on endogenous SM levels, and the relationship between HCV replication and endogenous SM molecular species. We demonstrated that HCV induces the expression of the genes (SGMS1 and 2) encoding human SM synthases 1 and 2. We observed associated increases of both total and individual sphingolipid molecular species, as assessed in human hepatocytes and in the detergent-resistant membrane (DRM) fraction in which HCV replicates. SGMS1 expression had a correlation with HCV replication. Inhibition of sphingolipid biosynthesis with a hepatotropic serine palmitoyltransferase (SPT) inhibitor, NA808, suppressed HCV-RNA production while also interfering with sphingolipid metabolism. Further, we identified the SM molecular species that comprise the DRM fraction and demonstrated that these endogenous SM species interacted with HCV nonstructural 5B polymerase to enhance viral replication. Our results reveal that HCV alters sphingolipid metabolism to promote viral replication, providing new insights into the formation of the HCV replication complex and the involvement of host lipids in the HCV life cycle.
Although gene exchange is not likely to occur freely, reassortment between the H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) and currently circulating human viruses is a serious concern. The PA polymerase subunit of H5N1 HPAIV was recently reported to activate the influenza replicon activity.
Hepatitis C virus core protein (Core) contributes to HCV pathogenicity. Here, we demonstrate that Core impairs growth in budding yeast. We identify HSP90 inhibitors as compounds that reduce intracellular Core protein level and restore yeast growth. Our results suggest that HSC90 (Hsc82) may function in the protection of the nascent Core polypeptide against degradation in yeast and the C-terminal region of Core corresponding to the organelle-interaction domain was responsible for Hsc82-dependent stability. The yeast system may be utilized to select compounds that can direct the C-terminal region to reduce the stability of Core protein.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes chronic infection, which often causes hepatocellular carcinoma. Overexpression of 3?-hydroxysterol ?24-reductase (DHCR24) by HCV has been shown to impair the p53-mediated cellular response, resulting in tumorigenesis. In the present study, the molecular mechanism by which HCV promotes the expression of DHCR24 was investigated. A significant increase in DHCR24 mRNA transcription was observed in a cell line expressing complete HCV genome, whereas no significant difference in the expression of DHCR24 was seen in cell lines expressing individual viral proteins. The 5-flanking genomic region of DHCR24 was characterized to explore the genomic region and host factor(s) involved in the transcriptional regulation of DHCR24. As a result, the HCV response element (-167/-140) was identified, which contains AP-2?, MZF-1, and Sp1 binding motifs. The binding affinity of the host factor to this response element was increased in nuclear extracts from cells infected with HCV and corresponded with augmented affinity of Sp1. Both mithramycin A (Sp1 inhibitor) and small interfering RNA targeting Sp1 prevented the binding of host factors to the response element. Silencing of Sp1 also downregulated the increased expression of DHCR24. The binding affinity of Sp1 to the response element was augmented by oxidative stress, whereas upregulation of DHCR24 in cells expressing HCV was blocked significantly by a reactive oxygen species scavenger. Elevated phosphorylation of Sp1 in response to oxidative stress was mediated by the ATM kinase. Thus, activation of Sp1 by oxidative stress is involved in the promotion of expression of DHCR24 by HCV.
Most acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections become chronic and some progress to liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Standard therapy involves an interferon (IFN)-?-based regimen, and efficacy of therapy has been significantly improved by the development of protease inhibitors. However, several issues remain concerning the injectable form and the side effects of IFN. Here, we report an orally available, small-molecule type I IFN receptor agonist that directly transduces the IFN signal cascade and stimulates antiviral gene expression. Like type I IFN, the small-molecule compound induces IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression for antiviral activity in vitro and in vivo in mice, and the ISG induction mechanism is attributed to a direct interaction between the compound and IFN-? receptor 2, a key molecule of IFN-signaling on the cell surface. Our study highlights the importance of an orally active IFN-like agent, both as a therapy for antiviral infections and as a potential IFN substitute.
Recently, we found that sphingomyelin bound and activated hepatitis C virus (HCV) 1b RNA polymerase (RdRp), thereby recruiting the HCV replication complex into lipid raft structures. Detergents are commonly used for resolving lipids and purifying proteins, including HCV RdRp. Here, we tested the effect of detergents on HCV RdRp activity in vitro and found that non-ionic (Triton X-100, NP-40, Tween 20, Tween 80, and Brij 35) and twitterionic (CHAPS) detergents activated HCV 1b RdRps by 8-16.6 folds, but did not affect 1a or 2a RdRps. The maximum effect of these detergents was observed at around their critical micelle concentrations. On the other hand, ionic detergents (SDS and DOC) completely inactivated polymerase activity at 0.01%. In the presence of Triton X-100, HCV 1b RdRp did not form oligomers, but recruited more template RNA and increased the speed of polymerization. Comparison of polymerase and RNA-binding activity between JFH1 RdRp and Triton X-100-activated 1b RdRp indicated that monomer RdRp showed high activity because JFH1 RdRp was a monomer in physiological conditions of transcription. Besides, 502H plays a key role on oligomerization of 1b RdRp, while 2a RdRps which have the amino acid S at position 502 are monomers. This oligomer formed by 502H was disrupted both by high salt and Triton X-100. On the contrary, HCV 1b RdRp completely lost fidelity in the presence of 0.02% Triton X-100, which suggests that caution should be exercised while using Triton X-100 in anti-HCV RdRp drug screening tests.
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