We have previously shown that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection modulates the expression of forkhead box transcription factors, including FoxO1 and FoxA2, which play key roles in gluconeogenesis and β-oxidation of fatty acid, respectively. The aim of the present study was to determine the role of forkhead box transcription factors in modulating lipid metabolism. HCV infection or core protein expression alone in transfected Huh7.5 cells increased expression of sterol regulatory element binding protein 1c (SREBP-1c) and its downstream target, fatty acid synthase (FASN), which are key proteins involved in lipid synthesis. Knockdown of FoxO1 by small interfering RNA in HCV-infected cells significantly decreased SREBP-1c and FASN expression. Further, HCV infection or core protein expression in Huh7.5 cells significantly decreased the expression of medium-chain acyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (MCAD) and short-chain acyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (SCAD), involved in the regulation of β-oxidation of fatty acids. Ectopic expression of FoxA2 in HCV-infected cells rescued the expression of MCAD and SCAD. Oil red O and neutral lipid staining indicated that HCV infection significantly increases lipid accumulation compared to that in the mock-infected control. This was further verified by the increased expression of perilipin-2 and decreased activity of hormonesensitive lipase (HSL) in HCV-infected hepatocytes, implying increased accumulation of neutral lipids. Knockdown of FoxO1 and ectopic expression of FoxA2 significantly decreased HCV replication. Taken together, these results suggest that HCV modulates forkhead box transcription factors which together increase lipid accumulation and promote viral replication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4195-4203
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2014


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