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You are here: Home / Teams / VIDALAIN PO - VIRIMI / News / Domain 2 of Hepatitis C Virus Protein NS5A Activates Glucokinase and Induces Lipogenesis in Hepatocytes

Domain 2 of Hepatitis C Virus Protein NS5A Activates Glucokinase and Induces Lipogenesis in Hepatocytes

The team describes glucokinase activation by the NS5A protein of Hepatitis C Virus in hepatocytes, resulting in glycolysis enhancement, leading to lipogenesis, intracellular steatosis and VLDL secretion.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) relies on cellular lipid metabolism for its replication, and actively modulates lipogenesis and lipid trafficking in infected hepatocytes. This translates into an intracellular accumulation of triglycerides leading to liver steatosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma, which are hallmarks of HCV pathogenesis. While the interaction of HCV with hepatocyte metabolic pathways is patent, how viral proteins are able to redirect central carbon metabolism towards lipogenesis is unclear. Here, we report that the HCV protein NS5A activates the glucokinase (GCK) isoenzyme of hexokinases through its D2 domain (NS5A-D2). GCK is the first rate-limiting enzyme of glycolysis in normal hepatocytes whose expression is replaced by the hexokinase 2 (HK2) isoenzyme in hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. We took advantage of a unique cellular model specifically engineered to re-express GCK instead of HK2 in the Huh7 cell line to evaluate the consequences of NS5A-D2 expression on central carbon and lipid metabolism. NS5A-D2 increased glucose consumption but decreased glycogen storage. This was accompanied by an altered mitochondrial respiration, an accumulation of intracellular triglycerides and an increased production of very-low density lipoproteins. Altogether, our results show that NS5A-D2 can reprogram central carbon metabolism towards a more energetic and glycolytic phenotype compatible with HCV needs for replication.

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