3 years ago

Permissiveness of human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines for hepatitis C virus entry and replication

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a globally prevalent pathogen and is associated with high death rates and morbidity. Since its discovery in 1989, HCV research has been impeded by the lack of a robust infectious cell culture system and thus in vitro studies on diverse genetic backgrounds are hampered because of the limited number of hepatoma cell lines which are able to support different aspects of the HCV life cycle. In the current study, we sought to expand the limited number of permissive cells capable of supporting the diverse phases of the HCV life cycle. Initially, we screened a panel of new hepatoma-derived cell lines, designated BCLC-1, -2, -3, -4, -5, -6, -9 and -10 cells, for their ability to express essential HCV receptors and subsequently to support HCV entry by using the well-characterized HCV pseudoparticle system (HCVpp). Apart from BCLC-9, all BCLC cell lines were permissive for HCVpp infection. Next, BCLC cells were subjected to short- and long-term HCV RNA replication studies using HCV subgenomic replicons. Interestingly, only BCLC-1, -5 and -9 cells, supported short-term HCV RNA replication, but the latter were excluded from further studies since they were refractory for HCV entry. BCLC-1, -5 were able to support long-term HCV replication too; yet BCLC-5 cells supported the highest long-term HCV RNA replication levels. Furthermore, cured BCLC-5 clones from HCV subgenomic replicon, showed increased permissiveness for HCV RNA replication. Strikingly, we were unable to detect endogenous BCLC-5 miR122 expression – an important HCV host factor- and as expected, the exogenous expression of miR122 in BCLC-5 cells increased their permissiveness for HCV RNA replication. However, this cell line was unable to produce HCV infectious particles despite ectopic expression of apolipoprotein E, which in other hepatoma cell lines has been shown to be sufficient to enable the HCV secretion process, suggesting a lack of other host cellular factor(s) and/or the presence of inhibitory factor(s). In conclusion, the establishment of these new permissive cell lines for HCV entry and replication, which possess a different genetic background compared to the well-established models, expands the current repertoire of hepatoma cell lines susceptible to the study of the HCV life cycle and also will aid to further elucidate the cellular determinants that modulate HCV replication, assembly and egress.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0168170217302782

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