Cellular Mechanism for Impaired Hepatitis C Virus Clearance by Interferon Associated with IFNL3 Gene Polymorphisms Relates to Intrahepatic Interferon-λ Expression

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  • Pauline Ferraris
  • ,
  • Partha K Chandra
  • ,
  • Rajesh Panigrahi
  • ,
  • Fatma Aboulnasr
  • ,
  • Srinivas Chava
  • ,
  • Ramazan Kurt
  • ,
  • Jean-Michel Pawlotsky
  • ,
  • Ludwig Wilkens
  • ,
  • Pamela Osterlund
  • ,
  • Rune Hartmann
  • Luis A Balart
  • ,
  • Tong Wu
  • ,
  • Srikanta Dash

The single nucleotide polymorphism located within the IFNL3 (also known as IL28B) promoter is one of the host factors associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) clearance by interferon (IFN)-α therapy; however the mechanism remains unknown. We investigated how IL28B gene polymorphism influences HCV clearance with infected primary human hepatocytes, liver biopsies, and hepatoma cell lines. Our study confirms that the rs12979860-T/T genotype has a strong correlation with ss469415590-ΔG/ΔG single nucleotide polymorphism that produces IFN-λ4 protein. We found that IFN-α and IFN-λ1 antiviral activity against HCV was impaired in IL28B T/T infected hepatocytes compared with C/C genotype. Western blot analysis showed that IL28B TT genotype hepatocytes expressed higher levels of IFN-λ proteins (IL28B, IL-29), preactivated IFN-stimulated gene (ISG) expression, and impaired Stat phosphorylation when stimulated with either IFN-α or IFN-λ1. Furthermore, we showed that silencing IFN-λ1 in T/T cell line reduced basal ISG expression and improved antiviral activity. Likewise, overexpression of IFN-λ (1 to 4) in C/C cells induced basal ISG expression and prevented IFN-α antiviral activity. We showed that IFN-λ4, produced at low level only in T/T cells induced expression of IL28B and IL-29 and prevented IFN-α antiviral activity in HCV cell culture. Our results suggest that IFN-λ4 protein expression associated with the IL28B-T/T variant preactivates the Janus kinase-Stat signaling, leading to impaired HCV clearance by both IFN-α and IFN-λ.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Pages (from-to)938-951
Number of pages14
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016

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