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Transforming Growth Factor β Acts as a Regulatory Molecule for Lipogenic Pathways among Hepatitis C Virus Genotype-Specific Infections.

  • Patra, Tapas1
  • Sasaki, Reina2
  • Meyer, Keith1
  • Ray, Ratna B2
  • Ray, Ranjit3, 4
  • 1 Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
  • 2 Department of Pathology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
  • 3 Department of Internal Medicine, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA [email protected]
  • 4 Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.
Published Article
Journal of Virology
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
Sep 15, 2019
DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00811-19
PMID: 31243135


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection promotes metabolic disorders, and the severity of lipogenic disease depends upon the infecting virus genotype. Here, we have examined HCV genotype 1-, 2-, or 3-specific regulation of lipid metabolism, involving transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)-regulated phospho-Akt (p-Akt) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα) axes. Since HCV core protein is one of the key players in metabolic regulation, we also examined its contribution in lipid metabolic pathways. The expression of regulatory molecules, TGF-β1/2, phospho-Akt (Ser473), PPARα, sterol regulatory element-binding protein 1 (SREBP-1), fatty acid synthase (FASN), hormone-sensitive lipase (HSL), and acyl dehydrogenases was analyzed in virus-infected hepatocytes. Interestingly, HCV genotype 3a exhibited much higher activation of TGF-β and p-Akt, with a concurrent decrease in PPARα expression and fatty acid oxidation. A significant and similar decrease in HSL, unlike in HCV genotype 1a, was observed with both genotypes 2a and 3a. Similar observations were made from ectopic expression of the core genomic region from each genotype. The key role of TGF-β was further verified using specific small interfering RNA (siRNA). Together, our results highlight a significant difference in TGF-β-induced activity for the HCV genotype 2a- or 3a-induced lipogenic pathway, exhibiting higher triglyceride synthesis and a decreased lipolytic mechanism. These results may help in therapeutic modalities for early treatment of HCV genotype-associated lipid metabolic disorders.IMPORTANCE Hepatic steatosis is a frequent complication associated with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and is a key prognostic indicator for progression to fibrosis and cirrhosis. Several mechanisms are proposed for the development of steatosis, especially with HCV genotype 3a. Our observations suggest that transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα)-associated mechanistic pathways in hepatocytes infected with HCV genotype 2a and 3a differ from those in cells infected with genotype 1a. The results suggest that a targeted therapeutic approach for enhanced PPARα and lipolysis may reduce HCV genotype-associated lipid metabolic disorder in liver disease. Copyright © 2019 American Society for Microbiology.

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