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J Virol. 1998 Dec;72(12):9722-8.

Ectopic expression of hepatitis C virus core protein differentially regulates nuclear transcription factors.

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  • 1Cytokine Research Laboratory, Department of Molecular Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


The putative core protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) regulates cellular growth and a number of cellular promoters. To further understand its effect, we investigated the role of the core protein in the endogenous regulation of two distinct transcription factors, nuclear factor-kappaB (NF-kappaB) and activating protein-1 (AP-1), and the related mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MAPKK) and c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). Stable cell transfectants expressing the HCV core protein suppressed tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-induced NF-kappaB activation. Supershift analysis revealed that NF-kappaB consists of p50 and p65 subunits. This correlated with inhibition of the degradation of IkappaBalpha, the inhibitory subunit of NF-kappaB. The effect was not specific to TNF, as suppression in core protein-expressing cells was also observed in response to a number of other inflammatory agents known to activate NF-kappaB. In contrast to the effect on NF-kappaB, the HCV core protein constitutively activated AP-1, which correlated with the activation of JNK and MAPKK, which are known to regulate AP-1. These observations indicated that the core protein targets transcription factors known to be involved in the regulation of inflammatory responses and the immune system.

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