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1.  A Role for CD81 and Hepatitis C Virus in Hepatoma Mobility 
Viruses  2014;6(3):1454-1472.
Tetraspanins are a family of small proteins that interact with themselves, host transmembrane and cytosolic proteins to form tetraspanin enriched microdomains (TEMs) that regulate important cellular functions. Several tetraspanin family members are linked to tumorigenesis. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an increasing global health burden, in part due to the increasing prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) associated HCC. The tetraspanin CD81 is an essential receptor for HCV, however, its role in hepatoma biology is uncertain. We demonstrate that antibody engagement of CD81 promotes hepatoma spread, which is limited by HCV infection, in an actin-dependent manner and identify an essential role for the C-terminal interaction with Ezrin-Radixin-Moesin (ERM) proteins in this process. We show enhanced hepatoma migration and invasion following expression of CD81 and a reduction in invasive potential upon CD81 silencing. In addition, we reveal poorly differentiated HCC express significantly higher levels of CD81 compared to adjacent non-tumor tissue. In summary, these data support a role for CD81 in regulating hepatoma mobility and propose CD81 as a tumour promoter.
PMCID: PMC3970161  PMID: 24662676
hepatitis; tetraspanin; CD81; hepatoma; metastasis
2.  Production, Purification and Characterization of Recombinant, Full-Length Human Claudin-1 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64517.
The transmembrane domain proteins of the claudin superfamily are the major structural components of cellular tight junctions. One family member, claudin-1, also associates with tetraspanin CD81 as part of a receptor complex that is essential for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection of the liver. To understand the molecular basis of claudin-1/CD81 association we previously produced and purified milligram quantities of functional, full-length CD81, which binds a soluble form of HCV E2 glycoprotein (sE2). Here we report the production, purification and characterization of claudin-1. Both yeast membrane-bound and detergent-extracted, purified claudin-1 were antigenic and recognized by specific antibodies. Analytical ultracentrifugation demonstrated that extraction with n-octyl-β-d-glucopyranoside yielded monodispersed, dimeric pools of claudin-1 while extraction with profoldin-8 or n-decylphosphocholine yielded a dynamic mixture of claudin-1 oligomers. Neither form bound sE2 in line with literature expectations, while further functional analysis was hampered by the finding that incorporation of claudin-1 into proteoliposomes rendered them intractable to study. Dynamic light scattering demonstrated that claudin-1 oligomers associate with CD81 in vitro in a defined molar ratio of 1∶2 and that complex formation was enhanced by the presence of cholesteryl hemisuccinate. Attempts to assay the complex biologically were limited by our finding that claudin-1 affects the properties of proteoliposomes. We conclude that recombinant, correctly-folded, full-length claudin-1 can be produced in yeast membranes, that it can be extracted in different oligomeric forms that do not bind sE2 and that a dynamic preparation can form a specific complex with CD81 in vitro in the absence of any other cellular components. These findings pave the way for the structural characterization of claudin-1 alone and in complex with CD81.
PMCID: PMC3660353  PMID: 23704991
3.  Hepatitis C Virus Induces CD81 and Claudin-1 Endocytosis 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(8):4305-4316.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) leads to progressive liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current treatments are only partially effective, and new therapies targeting viral and host pathways are required. Virus entry into a host cell provides a conserved target for therapeutic intervention. Tetraspanin CD81, scavenger receptor class B member I, and the tight-junction proteins claudin-1 and occludin have been identified as essential entry receptors. Limited information is available on the role of receptor trafficking in HCV entry. We demonstrate here that anti-CD81 antibodies inhibit HCV infection at late times after virus internalization, suggesting a role for intracellular CD81 in HCV infection. Several tetraspanins have been reported to internalize via motifs in their C-terminal cytoplasmic domains; however, CD81 lacks such motifs, leading several laboratories to suggest a limited role for CD81 endocytosis in HCV entry. We demonstrate CD81 internalization via a clathrin- and dynamin-dependent process, independent of its cytoplasmic domain, suggesting a role for associated partner proteins in regulating CD81 trafficking. Live cell imaging demonstrates CD81 and claudin-1 coendocytosis and fusion with Rab5 expressing endosomes, supporting a role for this receptor complex in HCV internalization. Receptor-specific antibodies and HCV particles increase CD81 and claudin-1 endocytosis, supporting a model wherein HCV stimulates receptor trafficking to promote particle internalization.
PMCID: PMC3318669  PMID: 22318146
4.  Hepatitis C virus infection of neuroepithelioma cell lines 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(4):1365-1374.
Background & Aims
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) establishes chronic infections in 3% of the world's population. Infection leads to progressive liver disease; hepatocytes are the major site of viral replication in vivo. However, chronic infection is associated with a variety of extrahepatic syndromes, including central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities. We therefore screened a series of neural and brain-derived cell lines for their ability to support HCV entry and replication.
We used a panel of neural-derived cell lines, HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpp), and an infectious, HCV JFH-1 cell-culture system (HCVcc) to assess viral tropism.
Two independently derived neuroepithelioma cell lines (SK-N-MC and SK-PN-DW) permitted HCVpp entry. In contrast, several neuroblastoma, glioma, and astrocytoma cell lines were refractory to HCVpp infection. HCVcc infected the neuroepithelioma cell lines and established a productive infection. Permissive neuroepithelioma cells expressed CD81, scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI), and the tight junction proteins Claudin-1 (CLDN1) and occludin, whereas non-permissive neural cell lines lacked CLDN1 and in some cases SR-BI. HCVpp infection of the neuroepithelioma cells was neutralized by antibodies to CD81, SR-BI, CLDN1 and HCV E2. Furthermore, anti-CD81, interferon and the anti-NS3 protease inhibitor VX-950 significantly reduced HCVcc infection of neuroepithelioma and hepatoma cells.
Neuroepithelioma-derived cell lines express functional receptors that support HCV entry at comparable levels to that of hepatoma cells. HCV infection in vitro is not restricted to hepatic-derived cells, so HCV might infect cells of the CNS in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3298458  PMID: 20538002
OCLN; neurotropism; brain; therapy; replicon; Huh-7; VX-950
5.  Claudin Association with CD81 Defines Hepatitis C Virus Entry 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2010;285(27):21092-21102.
Viruses initiate infection by attaching to molecules or receptors at the cell surface. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) enters cells via a multistep process involving tetraspanin CD81, scavenger receptor class B member I, and the tight junction proteins Claudin-1 and Occludin. CD81 and scavenger receptor class B member I interact with HCV-encoded glycoproteins, suggesting an initial role in mediating virus attachment. In contrast, there are minimal data supporting Claudin-1 association with HCV particles, raising questions as to its role in the virus internalization process. In the present study we demonstrate a relationship between receptor active Claudins and their association and organization with CD81 at the plasma membrane by fluorescence resonance energy transfer and stoichiometric imaging methodologies. Mutation of residues 32 and 48 in the Claudin-1 first extracellular loop ablates CD81 association and HCV receptor activity. Furthermore, mutation of the same residues in the receptor-inactive Claudin-7 molecule enabled CD81 complex formation and virus entry, demonstrating an essential role for Claudin-CD81 complexes in HCV infection. Importantly, Claudin-1 associated with CD81 at the basolateral membrane of polarized HepG2 cells, whereas tight junction-associated pools of Claudin-1 demonstrated a minimal association with CD81. In summary, we demonstrate an essential role for Claudin-CD81 complexes in HCV infection and their localization at the basolateral surface of polarized hepatoma cells, consistent with virus entry into the liver via the sinusoidal blood and association with basal expressed forms of the receptors.
PMCID: PMC2898367  PMID: 20375010
Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET); Receptor Structure-Function; Receptors; Tight Junction; Virus Entry
6.  Polarization Restricts Hepatitis C Virus Entry into HepG2 Hepatoma Cells▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(12):6211-6221.
The primary reservoir for hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication is believed to be hepatocytes, which are highly polarized with tight junctions (TJ) separating their basolateral and apical domains. HepG2 cells develop polarity over time, resulting in the formation and remodeling of bile canalicular (BC) structures. HepG2 cells expressing CD81 provide a model system to study the effects of hepatic polarity on HCV infection. We found an inverse association between HepG2-CD81 polarization and HCV pseudoparticle entry. As HepG2 cells polarize, discrete pools of claudin-1 (CLDN1) at the TJ and basal/lateral membranes develop, consistent with the pattern of receptor staining observed in liver tissue. The TJ and nonjunctional pools of CLDN1 show an altered association with CD81 and localization in response to the PKA antagonist Rp-8-Br-cyclic AMPs (cAMPs). Rp-8-Br-cAMPs reduced CLDN1 expression at the basal membrane and inhibited HCV infection, supporting a model where the nonjunctional pools of CLDN1 have a role in HCV entry. Treatment of HepG2 cells with proinflammatory cytokines, tumor necrosis factor alpha and gamma interferon, perturbed TJ integrity but had minimal effect(s) on cellular polarity and HCV infection, suggesting that TJ integrity does not limit HCV entry into polarized HepG2 cells. In contrast, activation of PKC with phorbol ester reduced TJ integrity, ablated HepG2 polarity, and stimulated HCV entry. Overall, these data show that complex hepatocyte-like polarity alters CLDN1 localization and limits HCV entry, suggesting that agents which disrupt hepatocyte polarity may promote HCV infection and transmission within the liver.
PMCID: PMC2687400  PMID: 19357163
7.  Protein Kinase A-Dependent Step(s) in Hepatitis C Virus Entry and Infectivity▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(17):8797-8811.
Viruses exploit signaling pathways to their advantage during multiple stages of their life cycle. We demonstrate a role for protein kinase A (PKA) in the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle. The inhibition of PKA with H89, cyclic AMP (cAMP) antagonists, or the protein kinase inhibitor peptide reduced HCV entry into Huh-7.5 hepatoma cells. Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer methodology allowed us to investigate the PKA isoform specificity of the cAMP antagonists in Huh-7.5 cells, suggesting a role for PKA type II in HCV internalization. Since viral entry is dependent on the host cell expression of CD81, scavenger receptor BI, and claudin-1 (CLDN1), we studied the role of PKA in regulating viral receptor localization by confocal imaging and fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) analysis. Inhibiting PKA activity in Huh-7.5 cells induced a reorganization of CLDN1 from the plasma membrane to an intracellular vesicular location(s) and disrupted FRET between CLDN1 and CD81, demonstrating the importance of CLDN1 expression at the plasma membrane for viral receptor activity. Inhibiting PKA activity in Huh-7.5 cells reduced the infectivity of extracellular virus without modulating the level of cell-free HCV RNA, suggesting that particle secretion was not affected but that specific infectivity was reduced. Viral particles released from H89-treated cells displayed the same range of buoyant densities as did those from control cells, suggesting that viral protein association with lipoproteins is not regulated by PKA. HCV infection of Huh-7.5 cells increased cAMP levels and phosphorylated PKA substrates, supporting a model where infection activates PKA in a cAMP-dependent manner to promote virus release and transmission.
PMCID: PMC2519651  PMID: 18579596
8.  CD81 and Claudin 1 Coreceptor Association: Role in Hepatitis C Virus Entry▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(10):5007-5020.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an enveloped positive-stranded RNA hepatotropic virus. HCV pseudoparticles infect liver-derived cells, supporting a model in which liver-specific molecules define HCV internalization. Three host cell molecules have been reported to be important entry factors or receptors for HCV internalization: scavenger receptor BI, the tetraspanin CD81, and the tight junction protein claudin-1 (CLDN1). None of the receptors are uniquely expressed within the liver, leading us to hypothesize that their organization within hepatocytes may explain receptor activity. Since CD81 and CLDN1 act as coreceptors during late stages in the entry process, we investigated their association in a variety of cell lines and human liver tissue. Imaging techniques that take advantage of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) to study protein-protein interactions have been developed. Aequorea coerulescens green fluorescent protein- and Discosoma sp. red-monomer fluorescent protein-tagged forms of CD81 and CLDN1 colocalized, and FRET occurred between the tagged coreceptors at comparable frequencies in permissive and nonpermissive cells, consistent with the formation of coreceptor complexes. FRET occurred between antibodies specific for CD81 and CLDN1 bound to human liver tissue, suggesting the presence of coreceptor complexes in liver tissue. HCV infection and treatment of Huh-7.5 cells with recombinant HCV E1-E2 glycoproteins and anti-CD81 monoclonal antibody modulated homotypic (CD81-CD81) and heterotypic (CD81-CLDN1) coreceptor protein association(s) at specific cellular locations, suggesting distinct roles in the viral entry process.
PMCID: PMC2346731  PMID: 18337570
9.  Type I interferon rapidly restricts infectious hepatitis C virus particle genesis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2014;60(6):1891-1901.
Interferon-alpha (IFNα) has been used to treat chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection for over 20 years with varying efficacy, depending on the infecting viral genotype. The mechanism of action of IFNα is not fully understood, but is thought to target multiple stages of the HCV lifecycle, inhibiting viral transcription and translation leading to a degradation of viral RNA and protein expression in the infected cell. IFNα induces the expression of an array of interferon-stimulated genes within minutes of receptor engagement; however, the impact of these early responses on the viral lifecycle are unknown. We demonstrate that IFNα inhibits the genesis of infectious extracellular HCV particles within 2 hours of treating infected cells, with minimal effect on the intracellular viral burden. Importantly, this short duration of IFNα treatment of infected cells significantly reduced cell-free and cell-to-cell dissemination. The secreted viral particles showed no apparent change in protein content or density, demonstrating that IFNα inhibits particle infectivity but not secretion rates. To investigate whether particles released from IFNα-treated cells have a reduced capacity to establish infection we used HCV lentiviral pseudotypes (HCVpp) and demonstrated a defect in cell entry. Using a panel of monoclonal antibodies targeting the E2 glycoprotein, we demonstrate that IFNα alters glycoprotein conformation and receptor utilization. Conclusion: These observations show a previously unreported and rapid effect of IFNα on HCV particle infectivity that inhibits de novo infection events. Evasion of this response may be a contributing factor in whether a patient achieves early or rapid virological response, a key indicator of progression to sustained virological response or clearance of viral infection. (Hepatology 2014;60:1890–1900)
PMCID: PMC4265257  PMID: 25066844

Results 1-9 (9)