•Recent studies have provided insight into the protective role of neutralizing antibodies in hepatitis C.•Neutralizing antibodies show broad reactivity for diverse HCV genotypes.•Recombinant HCV glycoproteins can elicit neutralizing antibodies.•The HCV E2 core structure can inform rational design of immunogens.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma worldwide. HCV establishes a chronic infection in the majority of cases. However, some individuals clear the virus, demonstrating a protective role for the host immune response. Although new all-oral drug combinations may soon replace traditional ribavirin–interferon therapy, the emerging drug cocktails will be expensive and associated with side-effects and resistance, making a global vaccine an urgent priority. T cells are widely accepted to play an essential role in clearing acute HCV infection, whereas the role antibodies play in resolution and disease pathogenesis is less well understood. Recent studies have provided an insight into viral neutralizing determinants and the protective role of antibodies during infection. This review provides a historical perspective of the role neutralizing antibodies play in HCV infection and discusses the therapeutic benefits of antibody-based therapies. This article forms part of a symposium in Antiviral Research on “Hepatitis C: next steps toward global eradication.”
Hepatitis C; Neutralization; Epitope; Transmission; HCV E2 core
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver disease. Therapeutic options are limited and preventive strategies are absent. Entry is the first step of infection and requires the cooperative interaction of several host cell factors. Using a functional RNAi kinase screen we identified epidermal growth factor receptor and ephrin receptor A2 as host co-factors for HCV entry. Blocking of kinase function by approved inhibitors broadly inhibited HCV infection of all major HCV genotypes and viral escape variants in cell culture and an animal model in vivo. Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) mediate HCV entry by regulating CD81-claudin-1 co-receptor associations and membrane fusion. These results identify RTKs as novel HCV entry co-factors and uncover that kinase inhibitors have significant antiviral activity. Inhibition of RTK function may constitute a novel approach for prevention and treatment of HCV infection.
Animals; Antigens, CD; physiology; Antigens, CD81; Antiviral Agents; pharmacology; Base Sequence; Cell Line; Claudin-1; Hepacivirus; drug effects; physiology; Hepatitis C; physiopathology; prevention & control; therapy; virology; Host-Pathogen Interactions; physiology; Humans; Ligands; Membrane Proteins; physiology; Mice; Protein Kinase Inhibitors; pharmacology; Quinazolines; pharmacology; RNA Interference; RNA, Small Interfering; genetics; Receptor, EphA2; antagonists & inhibitors; genetics; physiology; Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor; antagonists & inhibitors; genetics; physiology; Virus Internalization; drug effects; Antiviral / Cell-cell transmission / Liver / Phosphotyrosine kinase / HCV escape variants
B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia (B-CLL) patients expressing unmutated immunoglobulin heavy variable regions (IGHVs) use the IGHV1-69 B cell receptor (BCR) in 25% of cases. Since HIV-1 envelope gp41 antibodies also frequently use IGHV1-69 gene segments, we hypothesized that IGHV1-69 B-CLL precursors may contribute to the gp41 B cell response during HIV-1 infection. To test this hypothesis, we rescued 5 IGHV1-69 unmutated antibodies as heterohybridoma IgM paraproteins and as recombinant IgG1 antibodies from B-CLL patients, determined their antigenic specificities and analyzed BCR sequences. IGHV1-69 B-CLL antibodies were enriched for reactivity with HIV-1 envelope gp41, influenza, hepatitis C virus E2 protein and intestinal commensal bacteria. These IGHV1-69 B-CLL antibodies preferentially used IGHD3 and IGHJ6 gene segments and had long heavy chain complementary determining region 3s (HCDR3s) (≥21 aa). IGHV1-69 B-CLL BCRs exhibited a phenylalanine at position 54 (F54) of the HCDR2 as do rare HIV-1 gp41 and influenza hemagglutinin stem neutralizing antibodies, while IGHV1-69 gp41 antibodies induced by HIV-1 infection predominantly used leucine (L54) allelic variants. These results demonstrate that the B-CLL cell population is an expansion of members of the innate polyreactive B cell repertoire with reactivity to a number of infectious agent antigens including intestinal commensal bacteria. The B-CLL IGHV1-69 B cell usage of F54 allelic variants strongly suggests that IGHV1-69 B-CLL gp41 antibodies derive from a restricted B cell pool that also produces rare HIV-1 gp41 and influenza hemagglutinin stem antibodies.
The relevance of claudin-6 and claudin-9 in hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry remains elusive. We produced claudin-6- or claudin-9-specific monoclonal antibodies that inhibit HCV entry into nonhepatic cells expressing exogenous claudin-6 or claudin-9. These antibodies had no effect on HCV infection of hepatoma cells or primary hepatocytes. Thus, although claudin-6 and claudin-9 can serve as entry factors in cell lines, HCV infection into human hepatocytes is not dependent on claudin-6 and claudin-9.
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.
hepatitis; tetraspanin; CD81; hepatoma; metastasis
Type 1 interferon (IFN) continues to be the foundation for the current standard of care combination therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, yet the component interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) that mediate the antiviral actions of IFN are not fully defined. Interferon-induced transmembrane protein 1 (IFITM1) is an ISG product that suppresses early stage infection by a number of viruses through an as yet unknown mechanism of action. Moreover, the actions of IFITM1 on HCV infection are not fully elucidated. Here we identify IFITM1 as a hepatocyte tight junction protein and a potent anti-HCV effector molecule. IFITM1 expression is induced early during IFN treatment of hepatocytes and accumulates at hepatic tight junctions in HCV-infected human patient liver during IFN therapy. Additionally, we found that IFITM1 interacts with HCV co-receptors including CD81 and occludin to disrupt the process of viral entry. Thus, IFITM1 is an anti-HCV ISG whose actions impart control of HCV infection through interruption of viral coreceptor function.
This study defines IFITM1 as an ISG effector with action against HCV entry. Design of therapy regimens to enhance IFITM1 expression should improve the virologic response among HCV patients undergoing treatment with type I IFN.
interferon; CD81; occludin; antiviral; hepatocyte
BACKGROUND & AIMS
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection leads to progressive liver disease and is associated with a variety of extrahepatic syndromes, including central nervous system (CNS) abnormalities. However, it is unclear whether such cognitive abnormalities are a function of systemic disease, impaired hepatic function, or virus infection of the CNS.
We measured levels of HCV RNA and expression of the viral entry receptor in brain tissue samples from 10 infected individuals (and 3 uninfected individuals, as controls) and human brain microvascular endothelial cells by using quantitative polymerase chain reaction and immunochemical and confocal imaging analyses. HCV pseudoparticles and cell culture–derived HCV were used to study the ability of endothelial cells to support viral entry and replication.
Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction, we detected HCV RNA in brain tissue of infected individuals at significantly lower levels than in liver samples. Brain microvascular endothelia and brain endothelial cells expressed all of the recognized HCV entry receptors. Two independently derived brain endothelial cell lines, hC-MEC/D3 and HBMEC, supported HCV entry and replication. These processes were inhibited by antibodies against the entry factors CD81, scavenger receptor BI, and claudin-1; by interferon; and by reagents that inhibit NS3 protease and NS5B polymerase. HCV infection promotes endothelial permeability and cellular apoptosis.
Human brain endothelial cells express functional receptors that support HCV entry and replication. Virus infection of the CNS might lead to HCV-associated neuropathologies.
Virus Tropism; HCVpp; HCVcc; Neurologic Defect
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.
Genetic variability is a hallmark of RNA virus populations. However, transmission to a new host often results in a marked decrease in population diversity. This genetic bottlenecking is observed during hepatitis C virus (HCV) transmission and can arise via a selective sweep or through the founder effect. To model HCV transmission, we utilized chimeric SCID/Alb-uPA mice with transplanted human hepatocytes and infected them with a human serum HCV inoculum. E1E2 glycoprotein gene sequences in the donor inoculum and recipient mice were determined following single-genome amplification (SGA). In independent experiments, using mice with liver cells grafted from different sources, an E1E2 variant undetectable in the source inoculum was selected for during transmission. Bayesian coalescent analyses indicated that this variant arose in the inoculum pretransmission. Transmitted variants that established initial infection harbored key substitutions in E1E2 outside HVR1. Notably, all posttransmission E1E2s had lost a potential N-linked glycosylation site (PNGS) in E2. In lentiviral pseudoparticle assays, the major posttransmission E1E2 variant conferred an increased capacity for entry compared to the major variant present in the inoculum. Together, these data demonstrate that increased envelope glycoprotein fitness can drive selective outgrowth of minor variants posttransmission and that loss of a PNGS is integral to this improved phenotype. Mathematical modeling of the dynamics of competing HCV variants indicated that relatively modest differences in glycoprotein fitness can result in marked shifts in virus population composition. Overall, these data provide important insights into the dynamics and selection of HCV populations during transmission.
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.
Background & Aims
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes progressive liver disease and is a major risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the role of infection in HCC pathogenesis is poorly understood. We investigated the effect(s) of HCV infection and viral glycoprotein expression on hepatoma biology to gain insights into the development of HCV associated HCC.
We assessed the effect(s) of HCV and viral glycoprotein expression on hepatoma polarity, migration and invasion.
HCV glycoproteins perturb tight and adherens junction protein expression, and increase hepatoma migration and expression of epithelial to mesenchymal transition markers Snail and Twist via stabilizing hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). HIF-1α regulates many genes involved in tumor growth and metastasis, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). Neutralization of both growth factors shows different roles for VEGF and TGFβ in regulating hepatoma polarity and migration, respectively. Importantly, we confirmed these observations in virus infected hepatoma and primary human hepatocytes. Inhibition of HIF-1α reversed the effect(s) of infection and glycoprotein expression on hepatoma permeability and migration and significantly reduced HCV replication, demonstrating a dual role for HIF-1α in the cellular processes that are deregulated in many human cancers and in the viral life cycle.
These data provide new insights into the cancer-promoting effects of HCV infection on HCC migration and offer new approaches for treatment.
BC, bile canaliculi; CMFDA, 5-chloromethylfluorescein diacetate; HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma; EMT, epithelial to mesenchymal transition; HCVcc, hepatitis C virus cell culture; HIF-1α, hypoxia inducible factor 1 alpha; JFH-1, Japanese fulminant hepatitis-1; MRP-2, multidrug resistant protein-2; PHH, primary human hepatocytes; SR-BI, scavenger receptor class B member 1; TGFβ, transforming growth factor-beta; TNFα, tumor necrosis factor alpha; VEGF, vascular endothelial growth factor; VSV-G, vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein; Hepatitis C; Hypoxia; Invasion
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.
OCLN; neurotropism; brain; therapy; replicon; Huh-7; VX-950
Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can persist even in the presence of a broadly neutralizing antibody response. Various mechanisms that underpin viral persistence have been proposed, and one of the most recently proposed mechanisms is the presence of interfering antibodies that negate neutralizing responses. Specifically, it has been proposed that antibodies targeting broadly neutralizing epitopes located within a region of E2 encompassing residues 412 to 423 can be inhibited by nonneutralizing antibodies binding to a less conserved region encompassing residues 434 to 446. To investigate this phenomenon, we characterized the neutralizing and inhibitory effects of human-derived affinity-purified immunoglobulin fractions and murine monoclonal antibodies and show that antibodies to both regions neutralize HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) and cell culture-infectious virus (HCVcc) infection albeit with different breadths and potencies. Epitope mapping revealed the presence of overlapping but distinct epitopes in both regions, which may explain the observed differences in neutralizing phenotypes. Crucially, we failed to demonstrate any inhibition between these two groups of antibodies, suggesting that interference by nonneutralizing antibodies, at least for the region encompassing residues 434 to 446, does not provide a mechanism for HCV persistence in chronically infected individuals.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infected patients with vasculitis are often treated with the B-cell-depleting anti-CD20 antibody rituximab. Treatment reduces the cryoglobulins that cause vasculitis, yet it also leads to a transient increase in liver enzymes and HCV genomic RNA in the periphery. The mechanism underlying the increased viral load is unclear and both direct and indirect roles have been proposed for B cells in HCV infection. We previously reported that HCV can associate with B cells and can trans-infect hepatocytes. We established an in vitro assay to study the effect(s) of rituximab on B cell-associated HCV infectivity. Rituximab-mediated lysis of B cells in vitro increases the level of infectious HCV released from B cells. Our results, using a model where virus does not replicate in B cells, recapitulate observations seen in patients and may explain in part the rapid increase in blood HCV RNA observed after rituximab treatment.
Silymarin, an extract from milk thistle (Silybum marianum), and its purified flavonolignans have been recently shown to inhibit HCV infection, both in vitro and in vivo. In the current study, we further characterized silymarin's antiviral actions. Silymarin had antiviral effects against HCVcc infection that included inhibition of virus entry, RNA and protein expression, and infectious virus production. Silymarin did not block HCVcc binding to cells, but inhibited the entry of several viral pseudoparticles (pp), and fusion of HCVpp with liposomes. Silymarin but not silibinin inhibited JFH-1 genotype 2a NS5B-dependent RNA polymerase activity at concentrations 5–10 times higher than required for anti-HCVcc effects. Furthermore, silymarin had inefficient activity on the genotype 1b BK and four 1b RDRPs derived from HCV-infected patients. Moreover, silymarin did not inhibit HCV replication in 5 independent genotype 1a, 1b, and 2a replicon cell lines that did not produce infectious virus. Silymarin inhibited microsomal triglyceride transfer protein activity, apolipoprotein B secretion, and infectious virion production into culture supernatants. Silymarin also blocked cell-to-cell spread of virus. While inhibition of in-vitro NS5B polymerase activity is demonstrable, the mechanisms of silymarin's antiviral action appear to include blocking of virus entry and transmission, possibly by targeting the host cell.
milk thistle; JFH-1; HCVcc; virology; liver disease
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) can initiate infection by cell-free particle and cell-cell contact-dependent transmission. In this study we use a novel infectious coculture system to examine these alternative modes of infection. Cell-to-cell transmission is relatively resistant to anti-HCV glycoprotein monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal immunoglobulin isolated from infected individuals, providing an effective strategy for escaping host humoral immune responses. Chimeric viruses expressing the structural proteins representing the seven major HCV genotypes demonstrate neutralizing antibody-resistant cell-to-cell transmission. HCV entry is a multistep process involving numerous receptors. In this study we demonstrate that, in contrast to earlier reports, CD81 and the tight-junction components claudin-1 and occludin are all essential for both cell-free and cell-to-cell viral transmission. However, scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI) has a more prominent role in cell-to-cell transmission of the virus, with SR-BI-specific antibodies and small-molecule inhibitors showing preferential inhibition of this infection route. These observations highlight the importance of targeting host cell receptors, in particular SR-BI, to control viral infection and spread in the liver.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry occurs via a pH- and clathrin-dependent endocytic pathway and requires a number of cellular factors, including CD81, the tight-junction proteins claudin 1 (CLDN1) and occludin, and scavenger receptor class B member I (SR-BI). HCV tropism is restricted to the liver, where hepatocytes are tightly packed. Here, we demonstrate that SR-BI and CLDN1 expression is modulated in confluent human hepatoma cells, with both receptors being enriched at cell-cell junctions. Cellular contact increased HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) and HCV particle (HCVcc) infection and accelerated the internalization of cell-bound HCVcc, suggesting that the cell contact modulation of receptor levels may facilitate the assembly of receptor complexes required for virus internalization. CLDN1 overexpression in subconfluent cells was unable to recapitulate this effect, whereas increased SR-BI expression enhanced HCVpp entry and HCVcc internalization, demonstrating a rate-limiting role for SR-BI in HCV internalization.
Recent developments in methods to study virus internalisation are providing clearer insights into mechanisms used by viruses to enter host cells. The use of dominant negative constructs, specific inhibitory drugs and RNAi to selectively prevent entry through particular pathways has provided evidence for the clathrin-mediated entry of hepatitis C virus (HCV) as well as the caveolar entry of Simian Virus 40. Moreover, the ability to image and track fluorescent-labelled virus particles in real-time has begun to challenge the classical plasma membrane entry mechanisms described for poliovirus and human immunodeficiency virus. This review will cover both well-documented entry mechanisms as well as more recent discoveries in the entry pathways of enveloped and non-enveloped viruses. This will include viruses which enter the cytosol directly at the plasma membrane and those which enter via endocytosis and traversal of internal membrane barrier(s). Recent developments in imaging and inhibition of entry pathways have provided insights into the ill-defined entry mechanism of HCV, bringing it to the forefront of viral entry research. Finally, as high-affinity receptors often define viral internalisation pathways, and tropism in vivo, host membrane proteins to which viral particles specifically bind will be discussed throughout.
Viruses; Viral entry; Host cells; Vesicle trafficking; Endocytosis; Endocytic trafficking
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.
Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET); Receptor Structure-Function; Receptors; Tight Junction; Virus Entry
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.
Broadly neutralizing antibodies are commonly present in the sera of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. To elucidate possible mechanisms of virus escape from these antibodies, retrovirus particles pseudotyped with HCV glycoproteins (HCVpp) isolated from sequential samples collected over a 26-year period from a chronically infected patient, H, were used to characterize the neutralization potential and binding affinity of a panel of anti-HCV E2 human monoclonal antibodies (HMAbs). Moreover, AP33, a neutralizing murine monoclonal antibody (MAb) to a linear epitope in E2, was also tested against selected variants. The HMAbs used were previously shown to broadly neutralize HCV and to recognize a cluster of highly immunogenic overlapping epitopes, designated domain B, containing residues that are also critical for binding of viral E2 glycoprotein to CD81, a receptor essential for virus entry. Escape variants were observed at different time points with some of the HMAbs. Other HMAbs neutralized all variants except for the isolate 02.E10, obtained in 2002, which was also resistant to MAb AP33. The 02.E10 HCVpp that have reduced binding affinities for all antibodies and for CD81 also showed reduced infectivity. Comparison of the 02.E10 nucleotide sequence with that of the strain H-derived consensus variant, H77c, revealed the former to have two mutations in E2, S501N and V506A, located outside the known CD81 binding sites. Substitution A506V in 02.E10 HCVpp restored binding to CD81, but its antibody neutralization sensitivity was only partially restored. Double substitutions comprising N501S and A506V synergistically restored 02.E10 HCVpp infectivity. Other mutations that are not part of the antibody binding epitope in the context of N501S and A506V were able to completely restore neutralization sensitivity. These findings showed that some nonlinear overlapping epitopes are more essential than others for viral fitness and consequently are more invariant during earlier years of chronic infection. Further, the ability of the 02.E10 consensus variant to escape neutralization by the tested antibodies could be a new mechanism of virus escape from immune containment. Mutations that are outside receptor binding sites resulted in structural changes leading to complete escape from domain B neutralizing antibodies, while simultaneously compromising viral fitness by reducing binding to CD81.
Injection drug users (IDUs) who successfully clear hepatitis C virus (HCV) have a reduced risk of developing chronic reinfection, despite their continuing exposure to the virus. To identify immunological correlates for this apparent protection, we studied HCV-specific immune responses in long-term IDUs (duration, >10 years).
HCV-specific T cell responses were assessed in proliferation, enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISPOT), interferon (IFN)–γ secretion, and cytotoxicity assays, whereas HCV-specific antibodies were assessed in enzyme immunoassays (EIAs), chemiluminescent assays, and in vitro neutralization assays.
HCV-specific T cell proliferation and IFN-γ production were more common in nonviremic EIA-positive IDUs (16 [94%] of 17 IDUs) than in viremic EIA-positive IDUs (9 [45%] of 20 IDUs) (P = .003). They were also noted in 16 (62%) of 26 nonviremic EIA-negative IDUs. In contrast, 19 (90%) of 21 viremic IDUs displayed neutralizing antibodies (nAbs), compared with 9 (56%) of 16 nonviremic EIA-positive IDUs (P = .04) and 0 of 24 nonviremic EIA-negative IDUs. Nonviremic IDUs with nAbs were older (P = .0115) than those without nAbs, but these groups did not differ in terms of either injection drug use duration or HCV-specific T cell responses.
The reduced risk of HCV persistence in IDUs previously recovered from HCV infection correlated with T cell responses, and prolonged antigenic stimulation appears to be required to maintain humoral responses.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is dependent on at least three coreceptors: CD81, scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI), and claudin-1. The mechanism of how these molecules coordinate HCV entry is unknown. In this study we demonstrate that a cell culture-adapted JFH-1 mutant, with an amino acid change in E2 at position 451 (G451R), has a reduced dependency on SR-BI. This altered receptor dependency is accompanied by an increased sensitivity to neutralization by soluble CD81 and enhanced binding of recombinant E2 to cell surface-expressed and soluble CD81. Fractionation of HCV by density gradient centrifugation allows the analysis of particle-lipoprotein associations. The cell culture-adapted mutation alters the relationship between particle density and infectivity, with the peak infectivity occurring at higher density than the parental virus. No association was observed between particle density and SR-BI or CD81 coreceptor dependence. JFH-1 G451R is highly sensitive to neutralization by gp-specific antibodies, suggesting increased epitope exposure at the virion surface. Finally, an association was observed between JFH-1 particle density and sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies (NAbs), suggesting that lipoprotein association reduces the sensitivity of particles to NAbs. In summary, mutation of E2 at position 451 alters the relationship between particle density and infectivity, disrupts coreceptor dependence, and increases virion sensitivity to receptor mimics and NAbs. Our data suggest that a balanced interplay between HCV particles, lipoprotein components, and viral receptors allows the evasion of host immune responses.
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.