[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3) activation directs alpha/beta interferon production and interferon-stimulated gene (ISG) expression, which limits virus infection. Here, we examined the distribution of hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural 3 protein, the status of IRF-3 activation, and expression of IRF-3 target genes and ISGs during asynchronous HCV infection in vitro and in liver biopsies from patients with chronic HCV infection, using confocal microscopy and functional genomics approaches. In general, asynchronous infection with HCV stimulated a low-frequency and transient IRF-3 activation within responsive cells in vitro that was associated with cell-to-cell virus spread. Similarly, a subset of HCV patients exhibited the nuclear, active form of IRF-3 in hepatocytes and an associated increase in IRF-3 target gene expression in hepatic tissue. Moreover, ISG expression profiles formed disease-specific clusters for HCV and control nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients, with increased ISG expression among the HCV patients. We identified the presence of T cell and plasmacytoid dendritic cell infiltrates within all biopsy specimens, suggesting they could be a source of hepatic interferon in the setting of hepatitis C and chronic inflammatory condition. CONCLUSION: These results indicate that HCV can transiently trigger IRF-3 activation during virus spread and that in chronic HCV, IRF-3 activation within infected hepatocytes occurs but is limited.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Viral signaling through retinoic acid-inducible gene-I (RIG-I) and its adaptor protein, IFN promoter-stimulator 1 (IPS-1), activates IFN regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3) and the host IFN-alpha/beta response that limits virus infection. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS3/4A protease cleaves IPS-1 to block RIG-I signaling, but how this regulation controls the host response to HCV is not known. Moreover, endogenous IPS-1 cleavage has not been demonstrated in the context of HCV infection in vitro or in vivo. Here, we show that HCV infection transiently induces RIG-I- and IPS-1-dependent IRF-3 activation. This host response limits HCV production and constrains cellular permissiveness to infection. However, HCV disrupts this response early in infection by NS3/4A cleavage of IPS-1 at C508, releasing IPS-1 from the mitochondrial membrane. Cleavage results in subcellular redistribution of IPS-1 and loss of interaction with RIG-I, thereby preventing downstream activation of IRF-3 and IFN-beta induction. Liver tissues from chronically infected patients similarly demonstrate subcellular redistribution of IPS-1 in infected hepatocytes and IPS-1 cleavage associated with a lack of ISG15 expression and conjugation of target proteins in vivo. Importantly, small-molecule inhibitors of NS3/4A prevent cleavage and restore RIG-I signaling of IFN-beta induction. Our results suggest a dynamic model in which early activation of IRF-3 and induction of antiviral genes are reversed by IPS-1 proteolysis and abrogation of RIG-I signaling as NS3/4A accumulates in newly infected cells. HCV protease inhibitors effectively prevent IPS-1 proteolysis, suggesting they may be capable of restoring this innate host response in clinical practice.
Full-text · Article · May 2006 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major human pathogen that infects 170 million people. A hallmark of HCV is its ability to establish persistent infections reflecting the evasion of host immunity and interference with alpha/beta-IFN innate immune defenses. We demonstrate that disruption of retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) signaling by the viral NS3/4A protease contributes to the ability of HCV to control innate antiviral defenses. RIG-I was essential for virus or HCV RNA-induced signaling to the IFN-beta promoter in human hepatoma cells. This signaling was disrupted by the protease activity of NS3/4A, which ablates RIG-I signaling of downstream IFN regulatory factor 3 and NF-kappaB activation, attenuating expression of host antiviral defense genes and interrupting an IFN amplification loop that otherwise suppresses HCV replication. Treatment of cells with an active site inhibitor of the NS3/4A protease relieved this suppression and restored intracellular antiviral defenses. Thus, NS3/4A control of RIG-I supports HCV persistence by preventing IFN regulatory factor 3 and NF-kappaB activation. Our results demonstrate that these processes are amenable to restoration through pharmacologic inhibition of viral protease function.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2005 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences