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Journal of virology

Attachment and Postattachment Receptors Important for Hepatitis C Virus Infection and Cell-to-Cell Transmission.


PMID 28404852

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) requires multiple receptors for its attachment to and entry into cells. Our previous studies found that human syndecan-1 (SDC-1), SDC-2, and T cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 1 (TIM-1) are HCV attachment receptors. Other cell surface molecules, such as CD81, Claudin-1 (CLDN1), Occludin (OCLN), SR-BI, and low-density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR), function mainly at postattachment steps and are considered postattachment receptors. The underlying molecular mechanisms of different receptors in HCV cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission remain elusive. In the present study, we used a clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat (CRISPR)-Cas9 technology, gene-specific small interfering RNAs, and a newly developed luciferase-based reporter system to quantitatively determine the importance of individual receptors in HCV cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission. Knockouts of SDC-1 and SDC-2 resulted in remarkable reductions of HCV infection and cell attachment, whereas SDC-3 and SDC-4 knockouts did not affect HCV infection. Defective HCV attachment to SDC-1 and/or SDC-2 knockout cells was completely restored by SDC-1 and SDC-2 but not SDC-4 expression. Knockout of the attachment receptors SDC-1, SDC-2, and TIM-1 also modestly decreased HCV cell-to-cell transmission. In contrast, silencing and knockout of the postattachment receptors CD81, CLDN1, OCLN, SR-BI, and LDLR greatly impaired both HCV cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission. Additionally, apolipoprotein E was found to be important for HCV cell-to-cell spread, but very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL)-containing mouse serum did not affect HCV cell-to-cell transmission, although it inhibited cell-free infection. These findings demonstrate that attachment receptors are essential for initial HCV binding and that postattachment receptors are important for both HCV cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission.IMPORTANCE The importance and underlying molecular mechanisms of cell surface receptors in HCV cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission are poorly understood. The role of some of the HCV attachment and postattachment receptors in HCV infection and cell-to-cell spread remains controversial. Using CRISPR-Cas9-mediated knockouts of specific cellular genes, we demonstrate that both SDC-1 and SDC-2, but not SDC-3 or SDC-4, are bona fide HCV attachment receptors. We also used a newly developed luciferase-based reporter system to quantitatively determine the importance of attachment and postattachment receptors in HCV cell-to-cell transmission. SDC-1, SDC-2, TIM-1, and SR-BI were found to modestly promote HCV cell-to-cell spread. CD81, CLDN1, OCLN, and LDLR play more important roles in HCV cell-to-cell transmission. Likewise, apolipoprotein E (apoE) is critically important for HCV cell-to-cell spread, unlike VLDL-containing mouse serum, which did not affect HCV cell-to-cell spread. These findings suggest that the mechanism(s) of HCV cell-to-cell spread differs from that of cell-free infection.