The virus-host interactions that influence hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication are largely unknown but are thought to involve those that disrupt components of the innate intracellular antiviral response. Here we examined cellular antiviral pathways that are triggered during HCV RNA replication. We report that (i) RNA replication of HCV subgenomic replicons stimulated double- stranded RNA (dsRNA) signaling pathways within cultured human hepatoma cells, and (ii) viral RNA replication efficiency corresponded with an ability to block a key cellular antiviral effector pathway that is triggered by dsRNA and includes IFN regulatory factor-1 (IRF-1) and protein kinase R (PKR). The block to dsRNA signaling was mapped to the viral nonstructural 5A (NS5A) protein, which colocalized with PKR and suppressed the dsRNA activation of PKR during HCV RNA replication. NS5A alone was sufficient to block both the activation of IRF-1 and the induction of an IRF-1-dependent cellular promoter by dsRNA. Mutations that clustered in or adjacent to the PKR-binding domain of NS5A relieved the blockade to this IRF-1 regulatory pathway, resulting in induction of IRF-1-dependent antiviral effector genes and the concomitant reduction in HCV RNA replication efficiency. Our results provide further evidence to support a role for PKR in dsRNA signaling processes that activate IRF-1 during virus infection and suggest that NS5A may influence HCV persistence by blocking IRF-1 activation and disrupting a host antiviral pathway that plays a role in suppressing virus replication.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - Apr 2 2002|
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