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Regulation of Interferon Regulatory Factor-3 by the Hepatitis C Virus Serine Protease

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Science  16 May 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5622, pp. 1145-1148
DOI: 10.1126/science.1082604

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Abstract

Persistent infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are likely to depend on viral inhibition of host defenses. We show that the HCV NS3/4A serine protease blocks the phosphorylation and effector action of interferon regulatory factor–3 (IRF-3), a key cellular antiviral signaling molecule. Disruption of NS3/4A protease function by mutation or a ketoamide peptidomimetic inhibitor relieved this blockade and restored IRF-3 phosphorylation after cellular challenge with an unrelated virus. Furthermore, dominant-negative or constitutively active IRF-3 mutants, respectively, enhanced or suppressed HCV RNA replication in hepatoma cells. Thus, the NS3/4A protease represents a dual therapeutic target, the inhibition of which may both block viral replication and restore IRF-3 control of HCV infection.

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