Roles for endocytic trafficking and phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase III alpha in hepatitis C virus replication

Berger KL, Cooper JD, Heaton NS, Yoon R, Oakland TE, Jordan TX, Mateu G, Grakoui A, Randall G.

PNAS. 106(18):7577-82. 05/05/2009

PMID: 19376974


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) reorganizes cellular membranes to establish sites of replication. The required host pathways and the mechanism of cellular membrane reorganization are poorly characterized. Therefore, we interrogated a customized small interfering RNA (siRNA) library that targets 140 host membrane-trafficking genes to identify genes required for both HCV subgenomic replication and infectious virus production. We identified 7 host cofactors of viral replication, including Cdc42 and Rock2 (actin polymerization), EEA1 and Rab5A (early endosomes), Rab7L1, and PI3-kinase C2gamma and PI4-kinase IIIalpha (phospholipid metabolism). Studies of drug inhibitors indicate actin polymerization and phospholipid kinase activity are required for HCV replication. We found extensive co-localization of the HCV replicase markers NS5A and double-stranded RNA with Rab5A and partial co-localization with Rab7L1. PI4K-IIIalpha co-localized with NS5A and double-stranded RNA in addition to being present in detergent-resistant membranes containing NS5A. In a comparison of type II and type III PI4-kinases, PI4Ks were not required for HCV entry, and only PI4K-IIIalpha was required for HCV replication. Although PI4K-IIIalpha siRNAs decreased HCV replication and virus production by almost 100%, they had no effect on initial HCV RNA translation, suggesting that PI4K-IIIalpha functions at a posttranslational stage. Electron microscopy identified the presence of membranous webs, which are thought to be the site of HCV replication, in HCV-infected cells. Pretreatment with PI4K-IIIalpha siRNAs greatly reduced the accumulation of these membranous web structures in HCV-infected cells. We propose that PI4K-IIIalpha plays an essential role in membrane alterations leading to the formation of HCV replication complexes.