Superinfection Exclusion in Cells Infected with Hepatitis C Virus
Tscherne DM., Evans MJ., von Hahn T., Jones CT., Stamataki Z., McKeating JA., Lindenbach BD., Rice CM.
ABSTRACT Superinfection exclusion is the ability of an established virus infection to interfere with infection by a second virus. In this study, we found that Huh-7.5 cells acutely infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2a (chimeric strain J6/JFH) and cells harboring HCV genotype 1a, 1b, or 2a full-length or subgenomic replicons were resistant to infection with cell culture-produced HCV (HCVcc). Replicon-containing cells became permissive for HCVcc infection after treatment with an HCV-specific protease inhibitor. With the exception of cells harboring a J6/JFH-FLneo replicon, infected or replicon-containing cells were permissive for HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) entry, demonstrating a postentry superinfection block downstream of primary translation. The surprising resistance of J6/JFH-FLneo replicon-containing cells to HCVpp infection suggested a defect in virus entry. This block was due to reduced expression of the HCV coreceptor CD81. Further analyses indicated that J6/JFH may be toxic for cells expressing high levels of CD81, thus selecting for a CD81 low population. CD81 down regulation was not observed in acutely infected cells, suggesting that this may not be a general mechanism of HCV superinfection exclusion. Thus, HCV establishes superinfection exclusion at a postentry step, and this effect is reversible by treatment of infected cells with antiviral compounds.