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J Biol Chem. 2003 Oct 17;278(42):40778-87. Epub 2003 Aug 7.

Hepatitis C virus NS5A and subgenomic replicon activate NF-kappaB via tyrosine phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha and its degradation by calpain protease.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Program in Molecular Biology, B-172, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80262, USA.


Hepatitis C virus nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) has been implicated in the HCV antiviral resistance, replication, and transactivation of cellular gene expression. We have recently shown that HCV NS5A activates NF-kappaB via oxidative stress (22). In this study, we investigate the molecular mechanism(s) of NF-kappaB activation in response to oxidative stress induced by NS5A protein. In contrast to the classic Ser32,36 phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha, we report here that tyrosine phosphorylation of IkappaBalpha at Tyr42 and Tyr305 residues is induced by the HCV NS5A and the subgenomic replicons in the NF-kappaB activation process. Use of IkappaBalpha-Tyr42,305 double mutant provided the evidence for their key role in the activation of NF-kappaB. Activation of NF-kappaB was blocked by a series of tyrosine kinase inhibitors but not by IkappaB kinase inhibitor BAY 11-7085. More specifically, a ZAP-70 knock-out cell line expressing NS5A and other nonstructural proteins respectively prevented the NF-kappaB activation, indicating the involvement of ZAP-70 as a probable tyrosine kinase in the activation process. Evidence is also presented for the possible role of calpain proteases in the NS5A-induced IkappaBalpha degradation. These studies collectively define an alternate pathway of NF-kappaB activation by NS5A alone or in the context of the HCV subgenomic replicon. Constitutive activation of NF-kappaB by HCV has implications in the chronic liver disease including hepatocellular carcinoma associated with HCV infection.

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