Background: Viruses interact with and exploit the host cellular machinery for their multiplication and propagation. The MEK/ERK signaling pathway positively regulates replication of many RNA viruses. However, whether and how this signaling pathway affects hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and production is not well understood. Methods and Results: In this study, we took advantage of two well-characterized MEK/ERK inhibitors and MEK/ERK dominant negative mutants and investigated the roles of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway in HCV gene expression and replication. We showed that inhibition of MEK/ ERK signaling enhanced HCV gene expression, plus- and minus-strand RNA synthesis, and virus production. In addition, we showed that this enhancement was independent of interferon-α (IFN-α) antiviral activity and did not require prior activation of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway. Furthermore, we showed that only MEK and ERK-2 but not ERK-1 was involved in HCV replication, likely through regulation of HCV RNA translation. Conclusions: Taken together, these results demonstrate a negative regulatory role of the MEK/ERK signaling pathway in HCV replication and suggest a potential risk in targeting this signaling pathway to treat and prevent neoplastic transformation of HCV-infected liver cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)