Targeting Lipid Metabolism in the Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Infection

First Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Yamanashi, Yamanashi, Chuo, Japan.
The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 6). 03/2008; 197(3):361-70. DOI: 10.1086/525287
Source: PubMed


Recently, microdomains of organelle membranes rich in sphingomyelin and cholesterol (called "lipid rafts") have been considered to act as a scaffold for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication complex. Using the HCV cell culture system, we investigated the effect of myriocin, a sphingomyelin synthesis inhibitor, on HCV replication. We also investigated the combined effect of myriocin with interferon (IFN) and myriocin with simvastatin. Myriocin suppressed replication of both a genotype 1b subgenomic HCV replicon (Huh7/Rep-Feo) and genotype 2a infectious HCV (JFH-1 HCV) in a dose-dependent manner (for subgenomic HCV-1b, maximum of 79% at 1000 nmol/L; for genomic HCV-2a, maximum of 40% at 1000 nmol/L). Combination treatment with myriocin and IFN or myriocin and simvastatin attenuated HCV RNA replication synergistically in Huh7/Rep-Feo cells. Our data demonstrate that the sphingomyelin synthesis inhibitor strongly suppresses replication of both the subgenomic HCV-1b replicon and the JFH-1 strain of genotype 2a infectious HCV, indicating that lipid metabolism could be a novel target for HCV therapy.

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    • "Altogether, these observations reflect the important role of lipids in the HCV life cycle. Therefore, host factors involved in cholesterol/lipid metabolism might represent potential targets for HCV strategies, with only limited possibilities for escape mutations to develop [20], [21] and allowing treatment of patients infected with genotype 3 HCV [1]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes infection using host lipid metabolism pathways that are thus considered potential targets for indirect anti-HCV strategies. HCV enters the cell via clathrin-dependent endocytosis, interacting with several receptors, and virus-cell fusion, which depends on acidic pH and the integrity of cholesterol-rich domains of the hepatocyte membrane. The ATP-binding Cassette Transporter A1 (ABCA1) mediates cholesterol efflux from hepatocytes to extracellular Apolipoprotein A1 and moves cholesterol within cell membranes. Furthermore, it generates high-density lipoprotein (HDL) particles. HDL protects against arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. We show that the up-regulation of ABCA1 gene expression and its cholesterol efflux function in Huh7.5 hepatoma cells, using the liver X receptor (LXR) agonist GW3965, impairs HCV infection and decreases levels of virus produced. ABCA1-stimulation inhibited HCV cell entry, acting on virus-host cell fusion, but had no impact on virus attachment, replication, or assembly/secretion. It did not affect infectivity or properties of virus particles produced. Silencing of the ABCA1 gene and reduction of the specific cholesterol efflux function counteracted the inhibitory effect of the GW3965 on HCV infection, providing evidence for a key role of ABCA1 in this process. Impaired virus-cell entry correlated with the reorganisation of cholesterol-rich membrane microdomains (lipid rafts). The inhibitory effect could be reversed by an exogenous cholesterol supply, indicating that restriction of HCV infection was induced by changes of cholesterol content/distribution in membrane regions essential for virus-cell fusion. Stimulation of ABCA1 expression by GW3965 inhibited HCV infection of both human primary hepatocytes and isolated human liver slices. This study reveals that pharmacological stimulation of the ABCA1-dependent cholesterol efflux pathway disrupts membrane cholesterol homeostasis, leading to the inhibition of virus-cell fusion and thus HCV cell entry. Therefore besides other beneficial roles, ABCA1 might represent a potential target for HCV therapy.
    PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e92140. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0092140 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "AY-9944 and triparanol, inhibitors of the downstream targets D7-and D24- reductase, respectively, exhibited marginal selectivity despite previous reports that inhibition of these sterol reductases is compatible with cell proliferation (Rujanavech and Silbert, 1986; Fernandez et al, 2005). Previous reports have suggested that viral replication is impacted by the products of the fatty acid biosynthesis pathway (Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Amemiya et al, 2008). We found that the chemical probe Table I Chemical probes that inhibit enzymes within and outside the sterol pathway "
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    ABSTRACT: Chemical inhibition of enzymes in either the cholesterol or the fatty acid biosynthetic pathways has been shown to impact viral replication, both positively and negatively (Su et al, 2002; Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Sagan et al, 2006; Amemiya et al, 2008). FBL2 has been identified as a 50 kDa geranylgeranylated host protein that is necessary for localization of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication complex to the membranous web through its close association with the HCV protein NS5A and is critical for HCV replication (Wang et al, 2005). Inhibition of the protein geranylgeranyl transferase I (PGGT), an enzyme that transfers geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate (GGPP) to cellular proteins such as FBL2 for the purpose of membrane anchoring, negatively impacts HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003). Conversely, chemical agents that increase intracellular GGPP concentrations promote viral replication (Kapadia and Chisari, 2005). Statin compounds that inhibit 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR), the rate-limiting enzyme in the sterol pathway (Goldstein and Brown, 1990), have been suggested to inhibit HCV replication through ultimately reducing the cellular pool of GGPP (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Ikeda et al, 2006). However, inhibition of the sterol pathway with statin drugs has not yielded consistent results in patients. The use of statins for the treatment of HCV is likely to be complicated by the reported compensatory increase in HMGCR expression in vitro and in vivo (Stone et al, 1989; Cohen et al, 1993) in response to treatment. Enzymes in the sterol pathway are regulated on a transcriptional level by sterol regulatory element-binding proteins (SREBPs), specifically SREBP-2 (Hua et al, 1993; Brown and Goldstein, 1997). When cholesterol stores in cells are depleted, SREBP-2 activates transcription of genes in the sterol pathway such as HMGCR, HMG-CoA synthase, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) synthase, squalene synthase (SQLS) and the LDL receptor (Smith et al, 1988, 1990; Sakai et al, 1996; Brown and Goldstein, 1999; Horton et al, 2002). The requirement of additional downstream sterol pathway metabolites for HCV replication has not been completely elucidated. To further understand the impact of the sterol pathway and its regulation on HCV replication, we conducted a high-throughput combination chemical genetic screen using 16 chemical probes that are known to modulate the activity of target enzymes relating to the sterol biosynthesis pathway (Figure 1). Using this approach, we identified several novel antiviral targets including SREBP-2 as well as targets downstream of HMGCR in the sterol pathway such as oxidosqualene cyclase (OSC) and lanosterol demethylase. Many of our chemical probes, specifically SR-12813, farnesol and squalestatin, strongly promoted replicon replication. The actions of both farnesol and squalestatin ultimately result in an increase in the cellular pool of GGPP, which is known to increase HCV replication (Ye et al, 2003; Kapadia and Chisari, 2005; Wang et al, 2005). Chemical combinations targeting enzymes upstream of squalene epoxidase (SQLE) at the top of the sterol pathway (Figure 4A) elicited Bateson-type epistatic responses (Boone et al, 2007), where the upstream agent's response predominates over the effects of inhibiting all downstream targets. This was especially notable for combinations including simvastatin and either U18666A or squalestatin, and for squalestatin in combination with Ro48-8071. Treatment with squalestatin prevents the SQLS substrate, farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) from being further metabolized by the sterol pathway. As FPP concentrations increase, the metabolite can be shunted away from the sterol pathway toward farnesylation and GGPP synthetic pathways, resulting in an increase in host protein geranylgeranylation, including FBL2, and consequently replicon replication. This increase in replicon replication explains the source of the observed epistasis over Ro48-8071 treatment. Combinations between probes targeting enzymes downstream of and including OSC produced robust synergies with each other or with a PGGT inhibitor. Figure 4B highlights examples of antiviral synergy resulting from treatment of cells with an OSC inhibitor in combination with an inhibitor of either an enzyme upstream or downstream of OSC. A combination of terconazole and U18666A is synergistic without similar combination effects in the host proliferation screen. Likewise, clomiphene was also synergistic when added to replicon cells in combination with U18666A. One of the greatest synergies observed downstream in the sterol pathway is a combination of amorolfine and AY 9944, suggesting that there is value in developing combinations of drugs that target enzymes in the sterol pathway, which are downstream of HMGCR. Interactions with the protein prenylation pathway also showed strong mechanistic patterns (Figure 4C). GGTI-286 is a peptidomimetic compound resembling the CAAX domain of a protein to be geranylgeranylated and is a competitive inhibitor of protein geranylgeranylation. Simvastatin impedes the antiviral effect of GGTI-286 at low concentrations but that antagonism is balanced by comparable synergy at higher concentrations. At the low simvastatin concentrations, a compensatory increase in HMGCR expression leads to increased cellular levels of GGPP, which are likely to result in an increase in PGGT enzymatic turnover and decreased GGTI-286 efficacy. The antiviral synergy observed at the higher inhibitor concentrations is likely nonspecific as synergy was also observed in a host viability assay. Further downstream, however, a competitive interaction was observed between GGTI-286 and squalestatin, where the opposing effect of one compound obscures the other compound's effect. This competitive relationship between GGTI and SQLE explains the epistatic response observed between those two agents. For inhibitors of targets downstream of OSC, such as amorolfine, there are strong antiviral synergies with GGTI-286. Notably, combinations with OSC inhibitors and GGTI-286 were selective, in that comparable synergy was not found in a host viability assay. This selectivity suggests that jointly targeting OSC and PGGT is a promising avenue for future HCV therapy development. This study provides a comprehensive and unique perspective into the impact of sterol pathway regulation on HCV replication and provides compelling insight into the use of chemical combinations to maximize antiviral effects while minimizing proviral consequences. Our results suggest that HCV therapeutics developed against sterol pathway targets must consider the impact on underlying sterol pathway regulation. We found combinations of inhibitors of the lower part of the sterol pathway that are effective and synergistic with each other when tested in combination. Furthermore, the combination effects observed with simvastatin suggest that, though statins inhibit HMGCR activity, the resulting regulatory consequences of such inhibition ultimately lead to undesirable epistatic effects. Inhibitors that prevent SREBP-2 activation, inhibit PGGT or encourage the production of polar sterols have great potential as HCV therapeutics if associated toxicities can be reduced.
    Molecular Systems Biology 06/2010; 6(1):375. DOI:10.1038/msb.2010.32 · 10.87 Impact Factor
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    • "Currently approved therapies for infections with these pathogens are limited, and the development of specific viral enzyme-targeted inhibitors is frequently complicated by the inherently high mutation rate of viral RNA polymerases and the rapid development of resistance [3,4]. An alternative approach that has been advocated in the development of novel and potential broadly active antivirals is the targeting of host processes, which range from blockade of cell surface receptors to altering cellular metabolism [5–9]. However, the cell-centric approach to antiviral development requires substantial knowledge and understanding of the host-pathogen interactions that control virus replication. "
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    ABSTRACT: Positive-sense RNA viruses are responsible for frequent and often devastating diseases in humans, animals, and plants. However, the development of effective vaccines and anti-viral therapies targeted towards these pathogens has been hindered by an incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in viral replication. One common feature of all positive-sense RNA viruses is the manipulation of host intracellular membranes for the assembly of functional viral RNA replication complexes. This review will discuss the interplay between cellular membranes and positive-sense RNA virus replication, and will focus specifically on the potential structural and functional roles for cellular lipids in this process.
    Viruses 05/2010; 2(5):1055-68. DOI:10.3390/v2051055 · 3.35 Impact Factor
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