Publications by authors named "Hideki Aizaki"

84 Publications

Cellular OCIAD2 protein is a proviral factor for hepatitis C virus replication.

Int J Biol Macromol 2021 Oct 8;188:147-159. Epub 2021 Aug 8.

Institute of Pathogenic Microorganism and College of Bioscience and Engineering, Jiangxi Agricultural University, Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. Electronic address:

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural protein NS4B is necessary for HCV replication. Our previous research found that NS4B-associated cellular proteins PREB and Surfeit 4 are involved in HCV replication. However, the molecular mechanism of HCV replication is not fully understood. Here we identified cellular ovarian cancer immunoreactive antigen domain containing 2 (OCIAD2) protein as a novel NS4B-associated HCV host cofactor by screening with small interfering RNA. Knockdown of OCIAD2 reduced significantly the HCV replication in a dose-dependent and genotype-independent manner. Further research showed that OCIAD2 was recruited into the HCV RNA replication complex by the interaction with NS4B. Interestingly, HCV replication induced OCIAD2 expression. In turn, overexpression of wild OCIAD2 also promoted virus replication whereas that of OCIAD2 mutant lacking the ability to bind NS4B exerted no effect on HCV replication. We also examined whether OCIAD2 interacted with other proteins participating in the HCV RNA replication complex including viral proteins NS5A, NS5B, and cellular proteins PREB, Surfeit 4. The results showed that OCIAD2 interacted with PREB and NS5A, but not NS5B or Surfeit 4. Our findings provide new insights into the function of OCIAD2 and HCV replication mechanism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.08.032DOI Listing
October 2021

Identification of natural compounds extracted from crude drugs as novel inhibitors of hepatitis C virus.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2021 Aug 12;567:1-8. Epub 2021 Jun 12.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 162-8640, Tokyo, Japan. Electronic address:

Natural product-derived crude drugs are expected to yield an abundance of new drugs to treat infectious diseases. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an oncogenic virus that significantly impacts public health. In this study, we sought to identify anti-HCV compounds in extracts of natural products. A total of 110 natural compounds extracted from several herbal medicine plants were examined for antiviral activity against HCV. Using a Huh7-mCherry-NLS-IPS reporter system for HCV infection, we first performed a rapid screening for anti-HCV compounds extracted from crude drugs. The compounds threo-2,3-bis(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-3-butoxypropan-1-ol (#106) and medioresinol (#110), which were extracted from Crataegus cuneate, exhibited anti-HCV activity and significantly inhibited HCV production in a dose-dependent manner. Analyses using HCV pseudoparticle and subgenomic replicon systems indicated that compounds #106 and #110 specifically inhibit HCV RNA replication but not viral entry or translation. Interestingly, compound #106 also inhibited the replication and production of hepatitis A virus. Our findings suggest that C. cuneate is a new source for novel anti-hepatitis virus drug development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.06.022DOI Listing
August 2021

Oncogenic transcriptomic profile is sustained in the liver after the eradication of the hepatitis C virus.

Carcinogenesis 2021 May;42(5):672-684

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) developing after hepatitis C virus (HCV) eradication is a serious clinical concern. However, molecular basis for the hepatocarcinogenesis after sustained virologic response (SVR) remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to unveil the transcriptomic profile of post-SVR liver tissues and explore the molecules associated with post-SVR carcinogenesis. We analysed 90 RNA sequencing datasets, consisting of non-cancerous liver tissues including 20 post-SVR, 40 HCV-positive and 7 normal livers, along with Huh7 cell line specimens before and after HCV infection and eradication. Comparative analysis demonstrated that cell cycle- and mitochondrial function-associated pathways were altered only in HCV-positive non-cancerous liver tissues, whereas some cancer-related pathways were up-regulated in the non-cancerous liver tissues of both post-SVR and HCV-positive cases. The persistent up-regulation of carcinogenesis-associated gene clusters after viral clearance was reconfirmed through in vitro experiments, of which, CYR61, associated with liver fibrosis and carcinogenesis in several cancer types, was the top enriched gene and co-expressed with cell proliferation-associated gene modules. To evaluate whether this molecule could be a predictor of hepatocarcinogenesis after cure of HCV infection, we also examined 127 sera from independent HCV-positive cohorts treated with direct-acting antivirals (DAAs), including 60 post-SVR-HCC patients, and found that the elevated serum Cyr61 was significantly associated with early carcinogenesis after receiving DAA therapy. In conclusion, some oncogenic transcriptomic profiles are sustained in liver tissues after HCV eradication, which might be a molecular basis for the liver cancer development even after viral clearance. Among them, up-regulated CYR61 could be a possible biomarker for post-SVR-HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/carcin/bgab014DOI Listing
May 2021

Identification of Two Critical Neutralizing Epitopes in the Receptor Binding Domain of Hepatitis B Virus preS1.

J Virol 2020 Dec 9. Epub 2020 Dec 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem. Human hepatocytes are infected with HBV via binding between the preS1 region in the large envelope protein of HBV and sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Although several monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) that recognize the receptor binding domain in preS1 and neutralize HBV infection have been isolated, details of neutralizing epitopes are not understood. In this study, we generated 13 MAbs targeting the preS1 receptor binding domain from preS1-specific memory B cells derived from DNA immunized mice. The MAbs were classified into three groups according to the epitope regions, designated epitopes I-III. A virus neutralization assay revealed that MAbs recognizing epitopes I and III neutralized HBV infection, suggesting that these domains are critical epitopes for viral neutralization. In addition, a neutralization assay against multiple genotypes of HBV revealed that epitope I is a semi-pangenotypic neutralizing epitope, whereas epitope III is a genotype-specific epitope. We also showed that neutralizing MAbs against preS1 could neutralize HBV bearing vaccine-induced escape mutation. These findings provide insight into novel immunoprophylaxis for the prevention and treatment of HBV infection. The HBV preS1 2-47 aa region (preS1/2-47) is essential for virus binding with sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide. Several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 have been reported to neutralize HBV infection; however, which region in preS1/2-47 contains the critical neutralizing epitope for HBV infection is unclear. Here, we generated several MAbs targeting preS1/2-47 and found that MAbs recognizing the N- or C-terminus of preS1/2-47 remarkably neutralized HBV infection. We further confirmed the neutralizing activity of anti-preS1 MAbs against HBV with vaccine escape mutation. These data clarified the relationship between the antibody epitope and the virus neutralizing activity and also suggested the potential ability of a vaccine antigen containing the preS1 region to overcome the weakness of current HB vaccines comprising the small S protein.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01680-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8092832PMC
December 2020

MCPIP1 reduces HBV-RNA by targeting its epsilon structure.

Sci Rep 2020 11 27;10(1):20763. Epub 2020 Nov 27.

Department of Molecular Genetics, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, 920-8640, Japan.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the major causative factor of chronic viral hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. We previously demonstrated that a proinflammatory cytokine IL-1β reduced the level of HBV RNA. However, the mechanism underlying IL-1β-mediated viral RNA reduction remains incompletely understood. In this study, we report that immune regulator Monocyte chemotactic protein-1-induced protein 1 (MCPIP1) can reduce HBV RNA in hepatocytes. MCPIP1 expression level was higher in the liver tissue of HBV-infected patients and mice. Overexpression of MCPIP1 decreased HBV RNA, whereas ablating MCPIP1 in vitro enhanced HBV production. The domains responsible for RNase activity or oligomerization, were required for MCPIP1-mediated viral RNA reduction. The epsilon structure of HBV RNA was important for its antiviral activity and cleaved by MCPIP1 in the cell-free system. Lastly, knocking out MCPIP1 attenuated the anti-HBV effect of IL-1β, suggesting that MCPIP1 is required for IL-1β-mediated HBV RNA reduction. Overall, these results suggest that MCPIP1 may be involved in the antiviral effect downstream of IL-1β.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77166-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7699622PMC
November 2020

Sphingomyelin Is Essential for the Structure and Function of the Double-Membrane Vesicles in Hepatitis C Virus RNA Replication Factories.

J Virol 2020 11 9;94(23). Epub 2020 Nov 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan

Some plus-stranded RNA viruses generate double-membrane vesicles (DMVs), one type of the membrane replication factories, as replication sites. Little is known about the lipid components involved in the biogenesis of these vesicles. Sphingomyelin (SM) is required for hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication, but the mechanism of SM involvement remains poorly understood. SM biosynthesis starts in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and gives rise to ceramide, which is transported from the ER to the Golgi by the action of ceramide transfer protein (CERT), where it can be converted to SM. In this study, inhibition of SM biosynthesis, either by using small-molecule inhibitors or by knockout (KO) of CERT, suppressed HCV replication in a genotype-independent manner. This reduction in HCV replication was rescued by exogenous SM or ectopic expression of the CERT protein, but not by ectopic expression of nonfunctional CERT mutants. Observing low numbers of DMVs in stable replicon cells treated with a SM biosynthesis inhibitor or in CERT-KO cells transfected with either HCV replicon or with constructs that drive HCV protein production in a replication-independent system indicated the significant importance of SM to DMVs. The degradation of SM of the -isolated DMVs affected their morphology and increased the vulnerability of HCV RNA and proteins to RNase and protease treatment, respectively. Poliovirus, known to induce DMVs, showed decreased replication in CERT-KO cells, while dengue virus, known to induce invaginated vesicles, did not. In conclusion, these findings indicated that SM is an essential constituent of DMVs generated by some plus-stranded RNA viruses. Previous reports assumed that sphingomyelin (SM) is essential for HCV replication, but the mechanism was unclear. In this study, we showed for the first time that SM and ceramide transfer protein (CERT), which is in the SM biosynthesis pathway, are essential for the biosynthesis of double-membrane vesicles (DMVs), the sites of viral replication. Low numbers of DMVs were observed in CERT-KO cells transfected with replicon RNA or with constructs that drive HCV protein production in a replication-independent system. HCV replication was rescued by ectopic expression of the CERT protein, but not by CERT mutants, that abolishes the binding of CERT to vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein (VAP) or phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PI4P), indicating new roles for VAP and PI4P in HCV replication. The biosynthesis of DMVs has great importance to replication by a variety of plus-stranded RNA viruses. Understanding of this process is expected to facilitate the development of diagnosis and antivirus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01080-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7654263PMC
November 2020

EBV-LMP1 induces APOBEC3s and mitochondrial DNA hypermutation in nasopharyngeal cancer.

Cancer Med 2020 10 20;9(20):7663-7671. Epub 2020 Aug 20.

Division of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Kanazawa University, Kanazawa, Japan.

An Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is a principal oncogene that plays a pivotal role in EBV-associated malignant tumors including nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC). Recent genomic landscape studies revealed that NPC also contained many genomic mutations, suggesting the role of LMP1 as a driver gene for the induction of these genomic mutations. Nonetheless, its exact mechanism has not been investigated. In this study, we report that LMP1 alters the expression profile of APOBEC3s(A3s), host deaminases that introduce consecutive C-to-U mutations (hypermutation). In vitro, LMP1 induces APOBEC3B (A3B) and 3F(A3F), in a nasopharyngeal cell line, AdAH. Overexpression of LMP1, A3B, or A3F induces mtDNA hypermutation, which is also detectable from NPC specimens. Expression of LMP1 and A3B in NPC was correlated with neck metastasis. These results provide evidence as to which LMP1 induces A3s and mtDNA hypermutation, and how LMP1 facilitates metastasis is also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cam4.3357DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7571841PMC
October 2020

Investigation of the effects of urea cycle amino acids on the expression of ALB and CEBPB in the human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line FLC-4.

Hum Cell 2020 Jul 30;33(3):590-598. Epub 2020 May 30.

Department of Laboratory Medicine, The Jikei University School of Medicine, Nishi-shinbashi, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

Cell lines are powerful tools for research into liver function at the molecular level. However, they are generally unsuitable for rigorously assessing the effects of amino acid composition, because many lines require serum-containing medium for their maintenance. Here, we aimed to investigate the effects of ornithine and arginine, which are included in the characteristic metabolic process in hepatocyte, on a human hepatoma-derived cell line (FLC-4) that can be cultured in serum-free medium. FLC-4 cells were cultured under the following three conditions: + ornithine/ - arginine, - ornithine/ - arginine, and -ornithine/ + arginine. Albumin expression evaluated by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and showed no obvious differences based on the presence of ornithine or arginine. However, the mRNA levels of two liver-enriched transcription factors (CEBPB and HNF1A), which are involved in regulating albumin expression, were significantly higher in cells grown in medium-containing arginine than that in cells grown in ornithine-containing medium. Western blotting showed that the levels both activating and inhibitory C/EBPβ isoforms were significantly increased in cells grown in arginine medium. Furthermore, we have found that depletion of both ornithine and arginine, the polyamine sources, in the medium did not cause polyamine deficiency. When ornithine and arginine were depleted, albumin production was significantly reduced at the mRNA level, CEBPB mRNA levels were increased, and the level of activating form of C/EBPβ was increased. The results of this study suggest that in hepatocyte, these two amino acids might have different functions, and because of which they elicit disparate cellular responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13577-020-00383-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7324429PMC
July 2020

Establishment of infectious genotype 4 cell culture-derived hepatitis C virus.

J Gen Virol 2020 02 20;101(2):188-197. Epub 2019 Dec 20.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

To establish infectious genotype 4a (GT4a) cell culture-derived hepatitis C virus (HCVcc), we constructed full-length ED43 and 12 mutants possessing single or double mutations that increase ED43 replicon replication, and performed cell culture after RNA transfection. Sequential long-term culture of full-length ED43 RNA-transfected cells showed increased viral production in two ED43 mutants named ED43 QK/SI and TR/SI among the tested clones. These ED43 mutants possessed a common mutation, R1405G, in the NS3 helicase region and another mutation, D2413G or V2414A, in the NS5a-NS5b cleavage site. Furthermore, serial reinfection of naïve Huh7.5.1 cells accelerated peak HCV production at an earlier time point after every infection. After the fourth infection, we found a common mutation, R1405G, and six additional mutations in both ED43 QK/SI and TR/SI mutants. All seven mutations supported continuous viral production for more than 40 days in both ED43 QS-7M (QK/SI with seven mutations) and ED43 TS-7M (TR/SI with seven mutations). In addition, ED43 TS-7M did not require additional mutations for continuous virus culture up to 124 days. Both ED43 QS-7M and TS-7M were sensitive to the neutralizing E2 antibodies HCV1 and AR3A and the direct-acting antivirals, simeprevir, ledipasvir and sofosbuvir. In conclusion, we established an infectious ED43 strain containing adaptive mutations, which is important for the analysis of HCV genotype-specific pathogenesis, development of pan-genotypic agents and analysis of drug resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.001378DOI Listing
February 2020

The machinery for endocytosis of epidermal growth factor receptor coordinates the transport of incoming hepatitis B virus to the endosomal network.

J Biol Chem 2020 01 12;295(3):800-807. Epub 2019 Dec 12.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan

Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is expressed at the surface of human hepatocytes and functions as an entry receptor of hepatitis B virus (HBV). Recently, we have reported that epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is involved in NTCP-mediated viral internalization during the cell entry process. Here, we analyzed which function of EGFR is essential for mediating HBV internalization. In contrast to the reported crucial function of EGFR-downstream signaling for the entry of hepatitis C virus (HCV), blockade of EGFR-downstream signaling proteins, including mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K), and signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT), had no or only minor effects on HBV infection. Instead, deficiency of EGFR endocytosis resulting from either a deleterious mutation in EGFR or genetic knockdown of endocytosis adaptor molecules abrogated internalization of HBV via NTCP and prevented viral infection. EGFR activation triggered a time-dependent relocalization of HBV preS1 to the early and late endosomes and to lysosomes in concert with EGFR transport. Suppression of EGFR ubiquitination by site-directed mutagenesis or by knocking down two EGFR-sorting molecules, signal-transducing adaptor molecule (STAM) and lysosomal protein transmembrane 4β (LAPTM4B), suggested that EGFR transport to the late endosome is critical for efficient HBV infection. Cumulatively, these results support the idea that the EGFR endocytosis/sorting machinery drives the translocation of NTCP-bound HBV from the cell surface to the endosomal network, which eventually enables productive viral infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.AC119.010366DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6970923PMC
January 2020

Non-nucleoside hepatitis B virus polymerase inhibitors identified by an in vitro polymerase elongation assay.

J Gastroenterol 2020 Apr 25;55(4):441-452. Epub 2019 Nov 25.

Choju Medical Institute, Fukushimura Hospital, 19-14 Azayamanaka, Noyori-cho, Toyohashi, 441-8124, Japan.

Background: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) polymerase is the only virus-encoded enzyme essential for producing the HBV genome and is regarded as an attractive drug target. However, the difficulty of synthesizing and purifying recombinant HBV polymerase protein has hampered the development of new drugs targeting this enzyme, especially compounds unrelated to the nucleoside structure. We recently have developed a technique for the synthesis and purification of recombinant HBV polymerase containing the reverse transcriptase (RT) domain that carried DNA elongation activity in vitro.

Methods: We used the overproduced protein to establish an in vitro high-throughput screening system to identify compounds that inhibit the elongation activity of HBV polymerase.

Results: We screened 1120 compounds and identified a stilbene derivative, piceatannol, as a potential anti-HBV agent. Derivative analysis identified another stilbene derivative, PDM2, that was able to inhibit HBV replication with an IC of 14.4 ± 7.7 μM. An infection experiment suggested that the compounds inhibit the replication of HBV rather than the entry process, as expected. Surface plasmon resonance analysis demonstrated a specific interaction between PDM2 and the RT domain. Importantly, PDM2 showed similar inhibitory activity against the replication of both wild-type HBV and a lamivudine/entecavir-resistant HBV variant. Furthermore, PDM2 showed an additive effect in combination with clinically used nucleos(t)ide analogs.

Conclusions: We report the development of a screening system that is useful for identifying non-nucleos(t)ide RT inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00535-019-01643-0DOI Listing
April 2020

Surfeit 4 Contributes to the Replication of Hepatitis C Virus Using Double-Membrane Vesicles.

J Virol 2020 01 6;94(2). Epub 2020 Jan 6.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan

A number of positive-strand RNA viruses, such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) and poliovirus, use double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) as replication sites. However, the role of cellular proteins in DMV formation during virus replication is poorly understood. HCV NS4B protein induces the formation of a "membranous web" structure that provides a platform for the assembly of viral replication complexes. Our previous screen of NS4B-associated host membrane proteins by dual-affinity purification, liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS), and small interfering RNA (siRNA) methods revealed that the Surfeit 4 (Surf4) gene, which encodes an integral membrane protein, is involved in the replication of the JFH1 subgenomic replicon. Here, we investigated in detail the effect of Surf4 on HCV replication. Surf4 affects HCV replication in a genotype-independent manner, whereas HCV replication does not alter Surf4 expression. The influence of Surf4 on HCV replication indicates that while Surf4 regulates replication, it has no effect on entry, translation, assembly, or release. Analysis of the underlying mechanism showed that Surf4 is recruited into HCV RNA replication complexes by NS4B and is involved in the formation of DMVs and the structural integrity of RNA replication complexes. Surf4 also participates in the replication of poliovirus, which uses DMVs as replication sites, but it has no effect on the replication of dengue virus, which uses invaginated/sphere-type vesicles as replication sites. These findings clearly show that Surf4 is a novel cofactor that is involved in the replication of positive-strand RNA viruses using DMVs as RNA replication sites, which provides valuable clues for DMV formation during positive-strand RNA virus replication. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS4B protein induces the formation of a membranous web (MW) structure that provides a platform for the assembly of viral replication complexes. The main constituents of the MW are double-membrane vesicles (DMVs). Here, we found that the cellular protein Surf4, which maintains endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-Golgi intermediate compartments and the Golgi compartment, is recruited into HCV RNA replication complexes by NS4B and is involved in the formation of DMVs. Moreover, Surf4 participates in the replication of poliovirus, which uses DMVs as replication sites, but has no effect on the replication of dengue virus, which uses invaginated vesicles as replication sites. These results indicate that the cellular protein Surf4 is involved in the replication of positive-strand RNA viruses that use DMVs as RNA replication sites, providing new insights into DMV formation during virus replication and potential targets for the diagnosis and treatment of positive-strand RNA viruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00858-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6955281PMC
January 2020

Ledipasvir and Sofosbuvir for Acute Hepatitis C Virus Monoinfection Associated with a High Risk of Acute Liver Failure.

Intern Med 2019 Oct 27;58(20):2969-2975. Epub 2019 Jun 27.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine, Japan.

A 72-year-old Japanese man was referred to our hospital with yellow discoloration of the sclera and liver dysfunction. He was diagnosed with acute hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection on the basis of HCV-RNA positivity and anti-HCV seroconversion. A transjugular liver biopsy confirmed submassive hepatic necrosis. Five days after admission, no flapping tremor was observed, and the prothrombin time-international normalized ratio (PT-INR) and total bilirubin level showed increases of 1.70 and 17.8 mg/dL, respectively. The Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score was determined to be 25, and the risk of acute liver failure (ALF) was estimated to be 48% according to the Japan Hepatic Encephalopathy Prediction Model. Considering that rapid HCV clearance and temporary suppression of the immune response would prevent ALF, we prescribed oral ledipasvir (LDV) 90 mg and sofosbuvir (SOF) 400 mg for 12 weeks and intravenously injected methylprednisolone 1 g for 3 days. His PT-INR promptly improved, although the total bilirubin level increased to 30.3 mg/dL. Plasma bilirubin absorption was performed three times, and the total bilirubin level gradually decreased. HCV-RNA was still detectable at six weeks after the start of LDV/SOF therapy and finally undetectable at eight weeks. There were no adverse events associated with LDV/SOF. The patient was discharged 73 days after admission. A sustained virological response was achieved at 12 and 24 weeks after treatment. The findings from this case suggest that LDV/SOF therapy can be a promising option for acute HCV monoinfection associated with a high risk of ALF.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.2169/internalmedicine.2982-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6859401PMC
October 2019

Epidermal growth factor receptor is a host-entry cofactor triggering hepatitis B virus internalization.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2019 04 5;116(17):8487-8492. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 162-8640 Tokyo, Japan;

Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is a host cell receptor required for hepatitis B virus (HBV) entry. However, the susceptibility of NTCP-expressing cells to HBV is diverse depending on the culture condition. Stimulation with epidermal growth factor (EGF) was found to potentiate cell susceptibility to HBV infection. Here, we show that EGF receptor (EGFR) plays a critical role in HBV virion internalization. In EGFR-knockdown cells, HBV or its preS1-specific fluorescence peptide attached to the cell surface, but its internalization was attenuated. PreS1 internalization and HBV infection could be rescued by complementation with functional EGFR. Interestingly, the HBV/preS1-NTCP complex at the cell surface was internalized concomitant with the endocytotic relocalization of EGFR. Molecular interaction between NTCP and EGFR was documented by immunoprecipitation assay. Upon dissociation from functional EGFR, NTCP no longer functioned to support viral infection, as demonstrated by either () the introduction of NTCP point mutation that disrupted its interaction with EGFR, () the detrimental effect of decoy peptide interrupting the NTCP-EGFR interaction, or () the pharmacological inactivation of EGFR. Together, these data support the crucial role of EGFR in mediating HBV-NTCP internalization into susceptible cells. EGFR thus provides a yet unidentified missing link from the cell-surface HBV-NTCP attachment to the viral invasion beyond the host cell membrane.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1811064116DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6486715PMC
April 2019

Activation of protein kinase R by hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.

Virology 2019 03 29;529:226-233. Epub 2019 Jan 29.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1, Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan. Electronic address:

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) was shown to activate protein kinase R (PKR), which inhibits expression of interferon (IFN) and IFN-stimulated genes by controlling the translation of newly transcribed mRNAs. However, it is unknown exactly how HCV activates PKR. To address the molecular mechanism(s) of PKR activation mediated by HCV infection, we examined the effects of viral proteins on PKR activation. Here, we show that expression of HCV NS5B strongly induced PKR and eIF2α phosphorylation, and attenuated MHC class I expression. In contrast, expression of Japanese encephalitis virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase did not induce phosphorylation of PKR. Co-immunoprecipitation analyses showed that HCV NS5B interacted with PKR. Furthermore, expression of NS5B with polymerase activity-deficient mutation failed to phosphorylate PKR, suggesting that RNA polymerase activity is required for PKR activation. These results suggest that HCV activates PKR by association with NS5B, resulting in translational suppression of MHC class I to establish chronic infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2019.01.024DOI Listing
March 2019

Regulation of Hepatitis C Virus Infection by Cellular Retinoic Acid Binding Proteins through the Modulation of Lipid Droplet Abundance.

J Virol 2019 04 3;93(8). Epub 2019 Apr 3.

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastrointestinal and Liver Diseases, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA

Retinoid (vitamin A) is an essential diet constituent that governs a broad range of biological processes. Its biologically active metabolite, all- retinoic acid (ATRA), exhibits a potent antiviral property by enhancing both innate and adaptive antiviral immunity against a variety of viral pathogens, such as, but not limited to, HIV, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), herpes simplex virus (HSV), and measles. Even though the hepatocyte is highly enriched with retinoid and its metabolite ATRA, it supports the establishment of efficient hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication. Here, we demonstrate the hepatocyte-specific cell-intrinsic mechanism by which ATRA exerts either a proviral or antiviral effect, depending on how it engages cellular retinoic acid binding proteins (CRABPs). We found that the engagement of CRABP1 by ATRA potently supported viral infection by promoting the accumulation of lipid droplets (LDs), which robustly enhanced the formation of a replication complex on the LD-associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane. In contrast, ATRA binding to CRABP2 potently inhibited HCV via suppression of LD accumulation. However, this antiviral effect of CRABP2 was abrogated due to the functional and quantitative predominance of CRABP1 in the hepatocytes. In summary, our study demonstrates that CRABPs serve as an on-off switch that modulates the efficiency of the HCV life cycle and elucidates how HCV evades the antiviral properties of ATRA via the exploitation of CRABP1 functionality. ATRA, a biologically active metabolite of vitamin A, exerts pleiotropic biological effects, including the activation of both innate and adaptive immunity, thereby serving as a potent antimicrobial compound against numerous viral pathogens. Despite the enrichment of hepatocytes with vitamin A, HCV still establishes an efficient viral life cycle. Here, we discovered that the hepatocellular response to ATRA creates either a proviral or an antiviral environment depending on its engagement with CRABP1 or -2, respectively. CRABP1 supports the robust replication of HCV, while CRABP2 potently inhibits the efficiency of viral replication. Our biochemical, genetic, and microscopic analyses reveal that the pro- and antiviral effects of CRABPs are mediated by modulation of LD abundance, where HCV establishes the platform for viral replication and assembly on the LD-associated ER membrane. This study uncovered a cell-intrinsic mechanism by which HCV exploits the proviral function of CRABP1 to establish an efficient viral life cycle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02302-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6450116PMC
April 2019

Troglitazone Impedes the Oligomerization of Sodium Taurocholate Cotransporting Polypeptide and Entry of Hepatitis B Virus Into Hepatocytes.

Front Microbiol 2018 8;9:3257. Epub 2019 Jan 8.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Current anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) agents, which include nucleos(t)ide analogs and interferons, can significantly suppress HBV infection. However, there are limitations in the therapeutic efficacy of these agents, indicating the need to develop anti-HBV agents with different modes of action. In this study, through a functional cell-based chemical screening, we found that a thiazolidinedione, troglitazone, inhibits HBV infection independently of the compound's ligand activity for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ). Analog analysis suggested chemical moiety required for the anti-HBV activity and identified ciglitazone as an analog having higher anti-HBV potency. Whereas, most of the reported HBV entry inhibitors target viral attachment to the cell surface, troglitazone blocked a process subsequent to viral attachment, i.e., internalization of HBV preS1 and its receptor, sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP). We also found that NTCP was markedly oligomerized in the presence of HBV preS1, but such NTCP oligomerization was abrogated by treatment with troglitazone, but not with pioglitazone, correlating with inhibition activity to viral internalization. Also, competitive peptides that blocked NTCP oligomerization impeded viral internalization and infection. This work represents the first report identifying small molecules and peptides that specifically inhibit the internalization of HBV. This study is also significant in proposing a possible role for NTCP oligomerization in viral entry, which will shed a light on a new aspect of the cellular mechanisms regulating HBV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.03257DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6331526PMC
January 2019

A Single Adaptive Mutation in Sodium Taurocholate Cotransporting Polypeptide Induced by Hepadnaviruses Determines Virus Species Specificity.

J Virol 2019 03 19;93(5). Epub 2019 Feb 19.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) and its hepadnavirus relatives infect a wide range of vertebrates, from fish to human. Hepadnaviruses and their hosts have a long history of acquiring adaptive mutations. However, there are no reports providing direct molecular evidence for such a coevolutionary "arms race" between hepadnaviruses and their hosts. Here, we present evidence suggesting that the adaptive evolution of the sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), an HBV receptor, has been influenced by virus infection. Evolutionary analysis of the NTCP-encoding genes from 20 mammals showed that most NTCP residues are highly conserved among species, exhibiting evolution under negative selection (/ ratio [ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous evolutionary changes] of <1); this observation implies that the evolution of NTCP is restricted by maintaining its original protein function. However, 0.7% of NTCP amino acid residues exhibit rapid evolution under positive selection (/ ratio of >1). Notably, a substitution at amino acid (aa) 158, a positively selected residue, converting the human NTCP to a monkey-type sequence abrogated the capacity to support HBV infection; conversely, a substitution at this residue converting the monkey Ntcp to the human sequence was sufficient to confer HBV susceptibility. Together, these observations suggested a close association of the aa 158 positive selection with the pressure by virus infection. Moreover, the aa 158 sequence determined attachment of the HBV envelope protein to the host cell, demonstrating the mechanism whereby HBV infection would create positive selection at this NTCP residue. In summary, we provide the first evidence in agreement with the function of hepadnavirus as a driver for inducing adaptive mutation in host receptor. HBV and its hepadnavirus relatives infect a wide range of vertebrates, with a long infectious history (hundreds of millions of years). Such a long history generally allows adaptive mutations in hosts to escape from infection while simultaneously allowing adaptive mutations in viruses to overcome host barriers. However, there is no published molecular evidence for such a coevolutionary arms race between hepadnaviruses and hosts. In the present study, we performed coevolutionary phylogenetic analysis between hepadnaviruses and the sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), an HBV receptor, combined with virological experimental assays for investigating the biological significance of NTCP sequence variation. Our data provide the first molecular evidence supporting that HBV-related hepadnaviruses drive adaptive evolution in the NTCP sequence, including a mechanistic explanation of how NTCP mutations determine host viral susceptibility. Our novel insights enhance our understanding of how hepadnaviruses evolved with their hosts, permitting the acquisition of strong species specificity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01432-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6384088PMC
March 2019

High-throughput neutralization assay for multiple flaviviruses based on single-round infectious particles using dengue virus type 1 reporter replicon.

Sci Rep 2018 11 9;8(1):16624. Epub 2018 Nov 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1, Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-8640, Japan.

Diseases caused by the genus Flavivirus, including dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV), have a serious impact on public health worldwide. Due to serological cross-reactivity among flaviviruses, current enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for IgM/G cannot reliably distinguish between infection by different flaviviruses. In this study, we developed a reporter-based neutralization assay using single-round infectious particles (SRIPs) derived from representative flaviviruses. SRIPs were generated by transfection of human embryonic kidney 293 T cells with a plasmid encoding premembrane and envelope (prME) proteins from DENV1-4, ZIKV, Japanese encephalitis virus, West Nile virus, yellow fever virus, Usutu virus, and tick-borne encephalitis virus, along with a plasmid carrying DENV1 replicon containing the luciferase gene and plasmid for expression of DENV1 capsid. Luciferase activity of SRIPs-infected cells was well correlated with number of infected cells, and each reporter SRIP was specifically neutralized by sera from mice immunized with each flavivirus antigen. Our high-throughput reporter SRIP-based neutralization assay for multiple flaviviruses is a faster, safer, and less laborious diagnostic method than the conventional plaque reduction neutralization test to screen the cause of primary flavivirus infection. The assay may also contribute to the evaluation of vaccine efficacy and assist in routine surveillance and outbreak response to flaviviruses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-34865-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6226426PMC
November 2018

The aryl hydrocarbon receptor-cytochrome P450 1A1 pathway controls lipid accumulation and enhances the permissiveness for hepatitis C virus assembly.

J Biol Chem 2018 12 31;293(51):19559-19571. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

From the Department of Virology II and

Viruses hijack and modify host cell functions to maximize viral proliferation. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) reorganizes host cell metabolism to produce specialized membrane structures and to modify organelles such as double-membrane vesicles and enlarged lipid droplets (LDs), thereby enabling virus replication and assembly. However, the molecular bases of these host-HCV interactions are largely unknown. Here, using a chemical screen, we demonstrate that the benzamide derivative flutamide reduces the host capacity to produce infectious HCV. Flutamide disrupted the formation of enlarged LDs in HCV-infected cells, thereby abolishing HCV assembly. We also report that aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a known flutamide target, plays a key role in mediating LD accumulation and HCV production. This AhR function in lipid production was also observed in HCV-uninfected Huh-7 cells and primary human hepatocytes, suggesting that AhR signaling regulates lipid accumulation independently of HCV infection. We further observed that a downstream activity, that of cytochrome P450 1A1 (CYP1A1), was the primary regulator of AhR-mediated lipid production. Specifically, blockade of AhR-induced up-regulation counteracted LD overproduction, and overproduction of CYP1A1, but not of CYP1B1, in AhR-inactivated cells restored lipid accumulation. Of note, HCV infection up-regulated the AhR-CYP1A1 pathway, resulting in the accumulation of enlarged LDs. In conclusion, we demonstrate that the AhR-CYP1A1 pathway has a significant role in lipid accumulation, a hallmark of HCV infection that maximizes progeny virus production. Our chemical-genetic analysis reveals a new strategy and lead compounds to control hepatic lipid accumulation as well as HCV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA118.005033DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6314116PMC
December 2018

Thermostable hepatitis C virus JFH1-derived variant isolated by adaptation to Huh7.5.1 cells.

J Gen Virol 2018 10 27;99(10):1407-1417. Epub 2018 Jul 27.

1​Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, Japan.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and propagation in cultured cells have mainly been investigated using the infectious clinical clone JFH1. However, its infectivity is not high enough for infection to be detected easily. In this study, we attempted to isolate HCV-JFH1 variants adapted to human hepatoma Huh7.5.1 cells. By performing serial passages of the wild-type HCV-JFH1 in Huh7.5.1 cells, we obtained a variant that was capable of inducing severe cytopathic effects and showed approximately 700-fold higher infectivity than the wild-type HCV-JFH1. Further, when highly permissive Huh7.5.1-8 cells were infected with this variant, viral particles were produced at >10 copies ml, making this variant one of the most efficient HCV production systems. Two adaptive mutations were noted in the variant genome: a1994c (K74T) in the core protein region and t3014c (I414T) in the E2 protein region. Both mutations contributed to enhanced infectivity and their combination showed synergistic effects in this regard. An examination of recombinant viruses carrying K74T, I414T and K74T/I414T mutations revealed that none of the mutations had an effect on the steps after viral entry (genome replication, particle assembly and egress), but led to the viral infection becoming less dependent on scavenger receptor class B type I, changes of the infectious particles to a broader and lower range of densities, and enhanced thermal stability of the infectious viruses. Thus, this Huh7.5.1-adapted HCV-JFH1 variant with higher and stable infectivity should be a valuable tool for studying the molecular mechanisms behind the life cycle of HCV and for antiviral screening.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.001117DOI Listing
October 2018

A new strategy to identify hepatitis B virus entry inhibitors by AlphaScreen technology targeting the envelope-receptor interaction.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2018 06 11;501(2):374-379. Epub 2018 May 11.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan; Department of Applied Biological Sciences, Tokyo University of Science, Noda, Japan; CREST, JST, Saitama, Japan. Electronic address:

Current anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) agents have limited effect in curing HBV infection, and thus novel anti-HBV agents with different modes of action are in demand. In this study, we applied AlphaScreen assay to high-throughput screening of small molecules inhibiting the interaction between HBV large surface antigen (LHBs) and the HBV entry receptor, sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP). From the chemical screening, we identified that rapamycin, an immunosuppressant, strongly inhibited the LHBs-NTCP interaction. Rapamycin inhibited hepatocyte infection with HBV without significant cytotoxicity. This activity was due to impaired attachment of the LHBs preS1 domain to cell surface. Pretreatment of target cells with rapamycin remarkably reduced their susceptibility to preS1 attachment, while rapamycin pretreatment to preS1 did not affect its attachment activity, suggesting that rapamycin targets the host side. In support of this, a surface plasmon resonance analysis showed a direct interaction of rapamycin with NTCP. Consistently, rapamycin also prevented hepatitis D virus infection, whose entry into cells is also mediated by NTCP. We also identified two rapamycin derivatives, everolimus and temsirolimus, which possessed higher anti-HBV potencies than rapamycin. Thus, this is the first report for application of AlphaScreen technology that monitors a viral envelope-receptor interaction to identify viral entry inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2018.04.187DOI Listing
June 2018

Chemical array system, a platform to identify novel hepatitis B virus entry inhibitors targeting sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide.

Sci Rep 2018 02 9;8(1):2769. Epub 2018 Feb 9.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, 162-8640, Japan.

Current anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) agents including interferons and nucleos(t)ide analogs efficiently suppress HBV infection. However, as it is difficult to eliminate HBV from chronically infected liver, alternative anti-HBV agents targeting a new molecule are urgently needed. In this study, we applied a chemical array to high throughput screening of small molecules that interacted with sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), an entry receptor for HBV. From approximately 30,000 compounds, we identified 74 candidates for NTCP interactants, and five out of these were shown to inhibit HBV infection in cell culture. One of such compound, NPD8716, a coumarin derivative, interacted with NTCP and inhibited HBV infection without causing cytotoxicity. Consistent with its NTCP interaction capacity, this compound was shown to block viral attachment to host hepatocytes. NPD8716 also prevented the infection with hepatitis D virus, but not hepatitis C virus, in agreement with NPD8716 specifically inhibiting NTCP-mediated infection. Analysis of derivative compounds showed that the anti-HBV activity of compounds was apparently correlated with the affinity to NTCP and the capacity to impair NTCP-mediated bile acid uptake. These results are the first to show that the chemical array technology represents a powerful platform to identify novel viral entry inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-20987-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5807303PMC
February 2018

Functional association of cellular microtubules with viral capsid assembly supports efficient hepatitis B virus replication.

Sci Rep 2017 09 6;7(1):10620. Epub 2017 Sep 6.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, 162-8640, Japan.

Viruses exploit host factors and environment for their efficient replication. The virus-host interaction mechanisms for achieving an optimal hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication have been largely unknown. Here, a single cell cloning revealed that HepAD38 cells, a widely-used HBV-inducible cell line, contain cell clones with diverse permissiveness to HBV replication. The HBV permissiveness was impaired upon treatment with microtubule inhibitor nocodazole, which was identified as an HBV replication inhibitor from a pharmacological screening. In the microtubule-disrupted cells, the efficiency of HBV capsid assembly was remarkably decreased without significant change in pre-assembly process. We further found that HBV core interacted with tubulin and co-localized with microtubule-like fibriforms, but this association was abrogated upon microtubule-disassembly agents, resulting in attenuation of capsid formation. Our data thus suggest a significant role of microtubules in the efficient capsid formation during HBV replication. In line with this, a highly HBV permissive cell clone of HepAD38 cells showed a prominent association of core-microtubule and thus a high capacity to support the capsid formation. These findings provide a new aspect of virus-cell interaction for rendering efficient HBV replication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-017-11015-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5587681PMC
September 2017

Nonstructural 5A Protein of Hepatitis C Virus Interferes with Toll-Like Receptor Signaling and Suppresses the Interferon Response in Mouse Liver.

PLoS One 2017 20;12(1):e0170461. Epub 2017 Jan 20.

Department of Internal Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, The University of Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan.

The hepatitis C virus nonstructural protein NS5A is involved in resistance to the host immune response, as well as the viral lifecycle such as replication and maturation. Here, we established transgenic mice expressing NS5A protein in the liver and examined innate immune responses against lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in vivo. Intrahepatic gene expression levels of cytokines such as interleukin-6, tumor necrosis factor-α, and interferon-γ were significantly suppressed after LPS injection in the transgenic mouse liver. Induction of the C-C motif chemokine ligand 2, 4, and 5 was also suppressed. Phosphorylation of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3, which is activated by cytokines, was also reduced, and expression levels of interferon-stimulated genes, 2'-5' oligoadenylate synthase, interferon-inducible double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase, and myxovirus resistance 1 were similarly suppressed. Since LPS binds to toll-like receptor 4 and stimulates the downstream pathway leading to induction of these genes, we examined the extracellular signal-regulated kinase and IκB-α. The phosphorylation levels of these molecules were reduced in transgenic mouse liver, indicating that the pathway upstream of the molecules was disrupted by NS5A. Further analyses revealed that the interaction between interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1 and tumor necrosis factor receptor associated factor-6 was dispersed in transgenic mice, suggesting that NS5A may interfere with this interaction via myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88, which was shown to interact with NS5A. Since the gut microbiota, a source of LPS, is known to be associated with pathological conditions in liver diseases, our results suggest the involvement of NS5A in the pathogenesis of HCV infected-liver via the suppression of innate immunity.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0170461PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5249188PMC
August 2017

A new class of hepatitis B and D virus entry inhibitors, proanthocyanidin and its analogs, that directly act on the viral large surface proteins.

Hepatology 2017 04 17;65(4):1104-1116. Epub 2017 Jan 17.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Introduction of direct-acting antivirals against hepatitis C virus (HCV) has provided a revolutionary improvement in the treatment outcome. In contrast to HCV, however, the strategy for developing new antiviral agents against hepatitis B virus (HBV), especially viral-targeting compounds, is limited because HBV requires only four viral genes for its efficient replication/infection. Here, we identify an oligomeric flavonoid, proanthocyanidin (PAC) and its analogs, which inhibit HBV entry into host cells by targeting the HBV large surface protein (LHBs). Through cell-based chemical screening, PAC was identified to inhibit HBV infection with little cytotoxic effect. PAC prevented the attachment of the preS1 region in the LHBs to its cellular receptor, sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP). PAC was shown to target HBV particles and impair their infectivity, whereas it did not affect the NTCP-mediated bile acid transport activity. Chemical biological techniques demonstrated that PAC directly interacted with the region essential for receptor binding in the preS1 region in the LHBs protein. Importantly, PAC had a pan-genotypic anti-HBV activity and was also effective against a clinically relevant nucleoside analog-resistant HBV isolate. We further showed that PAC augmented the ability of a nucleoside analog, tenofovir, to interrupt HBV spread over time in primary human hepatocytes by cotreatment. Moreover, derivative analysis could identify small molecules that demonstrated more-potent anti-HBV activity over PAC.

Conclusion: PAC and its analogs represent a new class of anti-HBV agents that directly target the preS1 region of the HBV large surface protein. These agents could contribute to the development of a potent, well-tolerated, and broadly active inhibitor of HBV infection. (Hepatology 2017;65:1104-1116).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.28952DOI Listing
April 2017

Fungus-Derived Neoechinulin B as a Novel Antagonist of Liver X Receptor, Identified by Chemical Genetics Using a Hepatitis C Virus Cell Culture System.

J Virol 2016 10 29;90(20):9058-74. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.

Unlabelled: Cell culture systems reproducing virus replication can serve as unique models for the discovery of novel bioactive molecules. Here, using a hepatitis C virus (HCV) cell culture system, we identified neoechinulin B (NeoB), a fungus-derived compound, as an inhibitor of the liver X receptor (LXR). NeoB was initially identified by chemical screening as a compound that impeded the production of infectious HCV. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis and reporter assays revealed that NeoB specifically inhibits LXR-mediated transcription. NeoB was also shown to interact directly with LXRs. Analysis of structural analogs suggested that the molecular interaction of NeoB with LXR correlated with the capacity to inactivate LXR-mediated transcription and to modulate lipid metabolism in hepatocytes. Our data strongly suggested that NeoB is a novel LXR antagonist. Analysis using NeoB as a bioprobe revealed that LXRs support HCV replication: LXR inactivation resulted in dispersion of double-membrane vesicles, putative viral replication sites. Indeed, cells treated with NeoB showed decreased replicative permissiveness for poliovirus, which also replicates in double-membrane vesicles, but not for dengue virus, which replicates via a distinct membrane compartment. Together, our data suggest that LXR-mediated transcription regulates the formation of virus-associated membrane compartments. Significantly, inhibition of LXRs by NeoB enhanced the activity of all known classes of anti-HCV agents, and NeoB showed especially strong synergy when combined with interferon or an HCV NS5A inhibitor. Thus, our chemical genetics analysis demonstrates the utility of the HCV cell culture system for identifying novel bioactive molecules and characterizing the virus-host interaction machinery.

Importance: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is highly dependent on host factors for efficient replication. In the present study, we used an HCV cell culture system to screen an uncharacterized chemical library. Our results identified neoechinulin B (NeoB) as a novel inhibitor of the liver X receptor (LXR). NeoB inhibited the induction of LXR-regulated genes and altered lipid metabolism. Intriguingly, our results indicated that LXRs are critical to the process of HCV replication: LXR inactivation by NeoB disrupted double-membrane vesicles, putative sites of viral replication. Moreover, NeoB augmented the antiviral activity of all known classes of currently approved anti-HCV agents without increasing cytotoxicity. Thus, our strategy directly links the identification of novel bioactive compounds to basic virology and the development of new antiviral agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00856-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5044839PMC
October 2016

Human Cathelicidin Compensates for the Role of Apolipoproteins in Hepatitis C Virus Infectious Particle Formation.

J Virol 2016 10 12;90(19):8464-77. Epub 2016 Sep 12.

Department of Molecular Virology, Research Institute for Microbial Diseases, Osaka University, Osaka, Japan

Unlabelled: Exchangeable apolipoproteins (ApoA, -C, and -E) have been shown to redundantly participate in the formation of infectious hepatitis C virus (HCV) particles during the assembly process, although their precise role in the viral life cycle is not well understood. Recently, it was shown that the exogenous expression of only short sequences containing amphipathic α-helices from various apolipoproteins is sufficient to restore the formation of infectious HCV particles in ApoB and ApoE double-gene-knockout Huh7 (BE-KO) cells. In this study, through the expression of a small library of human secretory proteins containing amphipathic α-helix structures, we identified the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP), the only known member of the cathelicidin family of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in humans and expressed mainly in bone marrow and leukocytes. We showed that CAMP is able to rescue HCV infectious particle formation in BE-KO cells. In addition, we revealed that the LL-37 domain in CAMP containing amphipathic α-helices is crucial for the compensation of infectivity in BE-KO cells, and the expression of CAMP in nonhepatic 293T cells expressing claudin 1 and microRNA miR-122 confers complete propagation of HCV. These results suggest the possibility of extrahepatic propagation of HCV in cells with low-level or no expression of apolipoproteins but expressing secretory proteins containing amphipathic α-helices such as CAMP.

Importance: Various exchangeable apolipoproteins play a pivotal role in the formation of infectious HCV during the assembly of viral particles, and amphipathic α-helix motifs in the apolipoproteins have been shown to be a key factor. To the best of our knowledge, we have identified for the first time the human cathelicidin CAMP as a cellular protein that can compensate for the role of apolipoproteins in the life cycle of HCV. We have also identified the domain in CAMP that contains amphipathic α-helices crucial for compensation and show that the expression of CAMP in nonhepatic cells expressing claudin 1 and miR-122 confers complete propagation of HCV. We speculate that low levels of HCV propagation might be possible in extrahepatic tissues expressing secretory proteins containing amphipathic α-helices without the expression of apolipoproteins.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00471-16DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5021414PMC
October 2016

Bivalent vaccine platform based on Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) elicits neutralizing antibodies against JEV and hepatitis C virus.

Sci Rep 2016 06 27;6:28688. Epub 2016 Jun 27.

Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1, Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.

Directly acting antivirals recently have become available for the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, but there is no prophylactic vaccine for HCV. In the present study, we took advantage of the properties of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) to develop antigens for use in a HCV vaccine. Notably, the surface-exposed JEV envelope protein is tolerant of inserted foreign epitopes, permitting display of novel antigens. We identified 3 positions that permitted insertion of the HCV E2 neutralization epitope recognized by HCV1 antibody. JEV subviral particles (SVP) containing HCV-neutralization epitope (SVP-E2) were purified from culture supernatant by gel chromatography. Sera from mice immunized with SVP-E2 inhibited infection by JEV and by trans-complemented HCV particles (HCVtcp) derived from multi-genotypic viruses, whereas sera from mice immunized with synthetic E2 peptides did not show any neutralizing activity. Furthermore, sera from mice immunized with SVP-E2 neutralized HCVtcp with N415K escape mutation in E2. As with the SVP-E2 epitope-displaying particles, JEV SVPs with HCV E1 epitope also elicited neutralizing antibodies against HCV. Thus, this novel platform harboring foreign epitopes on the surface of the particle may facilitate the development of a bivalent vaccine against JEV and other pathogens.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep28688DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4922013PMC
June 2016

Single-domain intrabodies against hepatitis C virus core inhibit viral propagation and core-induced NFκB activation.

J Gen Virol 2016 Apr 9;97(4):887-892. Epub 2016 Feb 9.

Department of Infectious Diseases, Hamamatsu University School of Medicine, Shizuoka, Japan.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) core plays a key role in viral particle formation and is involved in viral pathogenesis. Here, constructs for single-domain intrabodies consisting of variable regions derived from mouse mAbs against HCV core were established. Expressed single-domain intrabodies were shown to bind to HCV core, and inhibit the growth of cell culture-produced HCV derived from JFH-1 (genotype 2a) and a TH (genotype 1b)/JFH-1 chimera. Adenovirus vectors expressing intrabodies were also capable of reducing HCV propagation. Intrabody expression did not affect viral entry or genome replication of single-round infectious trans-complemented HCV particles. However, intrabody expression reduced intracellular and extracellular infectious titres in CD81-defective Huh7-25 cells transfected with the HCV genome, suggesting that these intrabodies impair HCV assembly. Furthermore, intrabody expression suppressed HCV core-induced NFκB promoter activity. These intrabodies may therefore serve as tools for elucidating the role of core in HCV pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/jgv.0.000423DOI Listing
April 2016
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