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J Virol. 2005 Feb;79(3):1569-80.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) constitutively activates STAT-3 via oxidative stress: role of STAT-3 in HCV replication.

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Department of Microbiology and Program in Molecular Biology, University of Colorado HSC, 4200 East Ninth Ave., Denver, CO 80262, USA.


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes chronic hepatitis, which often results in liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. We have previously shown that HCV nonstructural proteins induce activation of STAT-3 via oxidative stress and Ca2+ signaling (G. Gong, G. Waris, R. Tanveer, and A. Siddiqui, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:9599-9604, 2001). In this study, we focus on the signaling pathway leading to STAT-3 activation in response to oxidative stress induced by HCV translation and replication activities. Here, we demonstrate the constitutive activation of STAT-3 in HCV replicon-expressing cells. The HCV-induced STAT-3 activation was inhibited in the presence of antioxidant (pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate) and Ca2+ chelators (BAPTA-AM and TMB-8). Previous studies have shown that maximum STAT-3 transactivation requires Ser727 phosphorylation in addition to tyrosine phosphorylation. Using a series of inhibitors and dominant negative mutants, we show that HCV-induced activation of STAT-3 is mediated by oxidative stress and influenced by the activation of cellular kinases, including p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase, JNK, JAK-2, and Src. Our results also suggest a potential role of STAT-3 in HCV RNA replication. We also observed the constitutive activation of STAT-3 in the liver biopsy of an HCV-infected patient. These studies provide an insight into the mechanisms by which HCV induces intracellular events relevant to liver pathogenesis associated with the viral infection.

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