Hepatitis C Virus Activates the mTOR/S6K1 Signaling Pathway in Inhibiting IRS-1 Function for Insulin Resistance

Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.44). 03/2012; 86(11):6315-22. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00050-12
Source: PubMed


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection significantly increases the prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). Insulin receptor substrate 1 (IRS-1) plays a key role in insulin signaling, thus enabling metabolic regulation in mammalian cells. We have previously shown that HCV infection modulates phosphorylation of Akt, a downstream target of IRS-1. In this study, we further examined the status of total IRS-1 and the downstream regulation of the Akt pathway in understanding mTOR/S6K1 signaling using HCV genotype 2a (clone JFH1)-infected hepatocytes. Inhibition of IRS-1 expression was observed in HCV-infected hepatocytes compared to that in a mock-infected control. The status of the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC-1/TSC-2) was significantly decreased after HCV infection of human hepatocytes, showing a modulation of the downstream Akt pathway. Subsequent study indicated an increased level of Rheb and mTOR expression in HCV-infected hepatocytes. Interestingly, the phosphoS6K1 level was higher in HCV-infected hepatocytes, suggesting a novel mechanism for IRS-1 inhibition. Ectopic expression of TSC-1/TSC-2 significantly recovered the IRS-1 protein expression level in HCV-infected hepatocytes. Further analyses indicated that HCV core protein plays a significant role in modulating the mTOR/S6K1 signaling pathway. Proteasome inhibitor MG 132 recovered IRS-1 and TSC1/2 expression, suggesting that degradation occurred via the ubiquitin proteasome pathway. A functional consequence of IRS-1 inhibition was reflected in a decrease in GLUT4 protein expression and upregulation of the gluconeogenic enzyme PCK2 in HCV-infected hepatocytes. Together, these observations suggested that HCV infection activates the mTOR/S6K1 pathway in inhibiting IRS-1 function and perturbs glucose metabolism via downregulation of GLUT4 and upregulation of PCK2 for insulin resistance.

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