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Hepatology. 2001 Jun;33(6):1503-11.

Expression of hepatitis C virus NS5A natural mutants in a hepatocytic cell line inhibits the antiviral effect of interferon in a PKR-independent manner.

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INSERM U370, Necker Institute, Paris, France.


The impact of hepatitis C virus NS5A protein mutations on interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) signaling pathway, cell proliferation, and viability is an important issue that is still under debate. We have therefore combined transient and stable expression in a human hepatocytic cell line (Huh7) of 3 full-length NS5A sequences, isolated from patients with or without response to IFN-alpha therapy. Expression of all 3 NS5A-reduced IFN-alpha global antiviral activity on both vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) replication. We did not show, however, an effect of these 3 NS5A proteins on double-stranded RNA-dependent kinase (PKR) expression and activity as well as colocalization and coimmunoprecipitation between NS5A and PKR. We also failed to show an effect of the 3 NS5A mutants tested on cell proliferation and viability. Overall, our results support an important role of NS5A in controlling IFN-alpha antiviral activity; they show, however, that PKR-independent mechanisms are implicated, at least in liver-derived cells.

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