Oxidative tissue injury often accompanies viral infection, yet there is little understanding of how it influences virus replication. We show that multiple hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotypes are exquisitely sensitive to oxidative membrane damage, a property distinguishing them from other pathogenic RNA viruses. Lipid peroxidation, regulated in part through sphingosine kinase-2, severely restricts HCV replication in Huh-7 cells and primary human hepatoblasts. Endogenous oxidative membrane damage lowers the 50% effective concentration of direct-acting antivirals in vitro, suggesting critical regulation of the conformation of the NS3-4A protease and the NS5B polymerase, membrane-bound HCV replicase components. Resistance to lipid peroxidation maps genetically to transmembrane and membrane-proximal residues within these proteins and is essential for robust replication in cell culture, as exemplified by the atypical JFH1 strain of HCV. Thus, the typical, wild-type HCV replicase is uniquely regulated by lipid peroxidation, providing a mechanism for attenuating replication in stressed tissue and possibly facilitating long-term viral persistence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)