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J Virol. 2009 Oct;83(19):9824-34. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01125-09. Epub 2009 Jul 22.

Toll-like receptor 3 mediates establishment of an antiviral state against hepatitis C virus in hepatoma cells.

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Center for Hepatitis Research, Institute for Human Infections and Immunity, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555, USA.


Toll-like receptor-3 (TLR3) senses double-stranded RNA, initiating signaling that activates NF-kappaB and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF-3), thereby inducing the synthesis of proinflammatory cytokines, type I interferons, and numerous interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs). This pathway has not been extensively investigated in human hepatocytes, and its role in sensing and protecting against hepatitis virus infections is uncertain. We show here that primary human hepatocytes express TLR3 and robustly upregulate ISGs upon poly(I.C) stimulation. We also show that TLR3 senses hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection when expressed in permissive hepatoma cells, acting independently of retinoic acid-inducible gene I and inducing IRF-3 activation and the synthesis of ISGs that restrict virus replication. In turn, HCV infection reduces the abundance of TRIF, an essential TLR3 adaptor, and impairs poly(I.C)-induced signaling. The induction and disruption of TLR3 signaling by HCV may be important factors in determining the outcome of infection and the ability of HCV to establish persistent infections.

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