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J Virol. 2013 Jul;87(14):7902-10. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00917-13. Epub 2013 May 8.

Hepatitis C virus infection upregulates CD55 expression on the hepatocyte surface and promotes association with virus particles.

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Department of Internal Medicine, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.


CD55 limits excessive complement activation on the host cell surface by accelerating the decay of C3 convertases. In this study, we observed that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection of hepatocytes or HCV core protein expression in transfected hepatocytes upregulated CD55 expression at the mRNA and protein levels. Further analysis suggested that the HCV core protein or full-length (FL) genome enhanced CD55 promoter activity in a luciferase-based assay, which was further augmented in the presence of interleukin-6. Mutation of the CREB or SP-1 binding site on the CD55 promoter impaired HCV core protein-mediated upregulation of CD55. HCV-infected or core protein-transfected Huh7.5 cells displayed greater viability in the presence of CD81 and CD55 antibodies and complement. Biochemical analysis revealed that CD55 was associated with cell culture-grown HCV after purification by sucrose density gradient ultracentrifugation. Consistent with this, a polyclonal antibody to CD55 captured cell culture-grown HCV. Blocking antibodies against CD55 or virus envelope glycoproteins in the presence of normal human serum as a source of complement inhibited HCV infection. The inhibition was enhanced in the presence of both the antibodies and serum complement. Collectively, these results suggest that HCV induces and associates with a negative regulator of the complement pathway, a likely mechanism for immune evasion.

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