We previously reported that nucleolin, a representative nucleolar marker, interacts with nonstructural protein 5B (NS5B) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) through two independent regions of NS5B, amino acids 208 to 214 and 500 to 506. We also showed that truncated nucleolin that harbors the NS5B-binding region inhibited the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity of NS5B in vitro, suggesting that nucleolin may be involved in HCV replication. To address this question, we focused on NS5B amino acids 208 to 214. We constructed one alanine-substituted clustered mutant (CM) replicon, in which all the amino acids in this region were changed to alanine, as well as seven different point mutant (PM) replicons, each of which harbored an alanine substitution at one of the amino acids in the region. After transfection into Huh7 cells, the CM replicon and the PM replicon containing NS5B W208A could not replicate, whereas the remaining PM replicons were able to replicate. In vivo immunoprecipitation also showed that the W208 residue of NS5B was essential for its interaction with nucleolin, strongly suggesting that this interaction is essential for HCV replication. To gain further insight into the role of nucleolin in HCV replication, we utilized the small interfering RNA (siRNA) technique to investigate the knockdown effect of nucleolin on HCV replication. Cotransfection of replicon RNA and nucleolin siRNA into Huh7 cells moderately inhibited HCV replication, although suppression of nucleolin did not affect cell proliferation. Taken together, our findings strongly suggest that nucleolin is a host component that interacts with HCV NS5B and is indispensable for HCV replication.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science