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J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(24):12881-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05633-11. Epub 2011 Oct 5.

ISG56 and IFITM1 proteins inhibit hepatitis C virus replication.

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Saint Louis University, 1100 South Grand Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63104, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) often leads to persistent infection. Interferon (IFN) and IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs) are amplified during HCV infection but fail to eliminate virus from the liver in a large number of infected patients. We have observed previously that HCV infection induces IFN-β production in immortalized human hepatocytes (IHH) as early as 24 h after infection, although virus replication is not inhibited. To gain insights on possible countermeasures of virus for the suppression of host antiviral response, the cellular transcriptional profiles of ISGs were examined after various treatments of IHH. The majority of ISGs were upregulated in IFN-treated IHH from the level for mock-treated cells. However, the comparison of ISG expression in IFN-treated IHH and IFN-pretreated, HCV genotype 2a-infected IHH indicated that virus infection suppresses the upregulation of a subset of effector molecules, including ISG56 and IFITM1. Similar results were observed for HCV-infected Huh7 cells. Subsequent study suggested that the exogenous expression of ISG56 or IFITM1 inhibits HCV replication in IHH or Huh7 cells, and the knockdown of these genes enhanced HCV replication. Further characterization revealed that the overexpression of these ISGs does not block HCV pseudotype entry into Huh7 cells. Taken together, our results demonstrated that ISG56 and IFITM1 serve as important molecules to restrict HCV infection, and they may have implications in the development of therapeutic modalities.

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