Limited suppression of the interferon-β production by hepatitis C virus serine protease in cultured human hepatocytes

Hiromichi Dansako, Masanori Ikeda, Nobuyuki Kato

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41 Citations (Scopus)


Toll-like receptors and RNA helicase family members [retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I) and melanoma differentiation associated gene-5 (MDA5)] play important roles in the induction of interferon-β as a major event in innate immune responses after virus infection. TRIF (adaptor protein of Toll-like receptor 3)-mediated and Cardif (adaptor protein of RIG-I or MDA5)-mediated signaling pathways contribute rapid induction of interferon-β through the activation of interferon regulatory factor-3 (IRF-3). Previously, it has been reported that the hepatitis C virus NS3-4A serine protease blocks virus-induced activation of IRF-3 in the human hepatoma cell line HuH-7, and that NS3-4A cleaves TRIF and Cardif molecules, resulting in the interruption of antiviral signaling pathways. On the other hand, it has recently been reported that non-neoplastic human hepatocyte PH5CH8 cells retain robust TRIF- and Cardif-mediated pathways, unlike HuH-7 cells, which lack a TRIF-mediated pathway. In the present study, we further investigated the effect of NS3-4A on antiviral signaling pathways. Although we confirmed that PH5CH8 cells were much more effective than HuH-7 cells for the induction of interferon-β, we obtained the unexpected result that NS3-4A could not suppress the interferon-β production induced by the TRIF-mediated pathway, although it suppressed the Cardif-mediated pathway by cleaving Cardif at the Cys508 residue. Using PH5CH8, HeLa, and HuH-7-derived cells, we further showed that NS3-4A could not cleave TRIF, in disagreement with a previous report describing the cleavage of TRIF by NS3-4A. Taken together, our findings suggest that the blocking of the interferon production by NS3-4A is not sufficient in HCV-infected hepatocyte cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4161-4176
Number of pages16
JournalFEBS Journal
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2007


  • Antiviral response
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Innate immune response
  • Interferon-β
  • Serine protease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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