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Hepatology. 2007 Nov;46(5):1365-74.

Hepatitis C virus escape from the interferon regulatory factor 3 pathway by a passive and active evasion strategy.

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Department of Molecular Virology, University of Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been known to replicate with extremely varying efficiencies in different host cells, even within different populations of a single human hepatoma cell line, termed Huh-7. Several reports have implicated the retinoic-acid inducible gene I (RIG-I)/ interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3) pathway of the innate antiviral response with differences in host cell permissiveness to HCV. To investigate the general impact of the IRF-3 response onto HCV replication in cell culture, we generated an ample array of stable Huh-7 cell lines with altered IRF-3 responsiveness. Neither blocking IRF-3 activation in various host cells by expression of dominant negative RIG-I or HCV NS3/4A protease nor reconstitution of RIG-I signaling in Huh7.5, a cell clone known to be defective in this pathway, had any impact on HCV replication. Only by overexpressing constitutively active RIG-I or the signaling adaptor Cardif (also known as interferon-beta promoter stimulator 1, mitochondrial anti-viral signaling protein, or virus-induced signaling adaptor), both leading to a stimulation of the IRF-3 pathway in the absence of inducers, was HCV replication significantly inhibited. We therefore assessed the extent of RIG-I- dependent IRF-3 activation by different species of RNA, including full-length HCV genomes and HCV RNA duplexes, and observed strong induction only in response to double-stranded RNAs.


Based on these findings, we propose a refined model of innate immune escape by HCV involving limited initial induction and stringent subsequent control of the IRF-3 response.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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