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Hepatitis C virus infects and perturbs liver stem cells

  • Meyers, Nathan L
  • Ashuach, Tal
  • Lyons, Danielle E
  • Khalid, Mir M
  • Simoneau, Camille R
  • Erickson, Ann L
  • Bouhaddou, Mehdi
  • Nguyen, Thong T
  • Kumar, G Renuka
  • Taha, Taha Y
  • Natarajan, Vaishaali
  • Baron, Jody L
  • Neff, Norma
  • Zanini, Fabio
  • Mahmoudi, Tokameh
  • Quake, Stephen R
  • Krogan, Nevan J
  • Cooper, Stewart
  • McDevitt, Todd C
  • Yosef, Nir
  • And 1 more
Publication Date
Dec 19, 2023
eScholarship - University of California
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the leading cause of death from liver disease. How HCV infection causes lasting liver damage and increases cancer risk remains unclear. Here, we identify bipotent liver stem cells as novel targets for HCV infection, and their erroneous differentiation as the potential cause of impaired liver regeneration and cancer development. We show 3D organoids generated from liver stem cells from actively HCV-infected individuals carry replicating virus and maintain low-grade infection over months. Organoids can be infected with a primary HCV isolate. Virus-inclusive single-cell RNA sequencing uncovered transcriptional reprogramming in HCV+ cells supporting hepatocytic differentiation, cancer stem cell development, and viral replication while stem cell proliferation and interferon signaling are disrupted. Our data add a new pathogenesis mechanism-infection of liver stem cells-to the biology of HCV infection that may explain progressive liver damage and enhanced cancer risk through an altered stem cell state.ImportanceThe hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes liver disease, affecting millions. Even though we have effective antivirals that cure HCV, they cannot stop terminal liver disease. We used an adult stem cell-derived liver organoid system to understand how HCV infection leads to the progression of terminal liver disease. Here, we show that HCV maintains low-grade infections in liver organoids for the first time. HCV infection in liver organoids leads to transcriptional reprogramming causing cancer cell development and altered immune response. Our finding shows how HCV infection in liver organoids mimics HCV infection and patient pathogenesis. These results reveal that HCV infection in liver organoids contributes to liver disease progression.

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