Hepatitis C Virus Downregulates Ubiquitin-Conjugating Enzyme E2S Expression To Prevent Proteasomal Degradation of NS5A, Leading to Host Cells More Sensitive to DNA Damage.


National Research Laboratory of Hepatitis C Virus, Hallym University, Anyang, South Korea [Email]


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may cause chronic hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV exploits cellular machineries to establish persistent infection. We demonstrate here that ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme E2S (UBE2S), a member of the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme family (E2s), was downregulated by endoplasmic reticulum stress caused by HCV in Huh7 cells. UBE2S interacted with domain I of HCV NS5A and degraded NS5A protein through the Lys11-linked proteasome-dependent pathway. Overexpression of UBE2S suppressed viral propagation, while depletion of UBE2S expression increased viral infectivity. Enzymatically inactive UBE2S C95A mutant exerted no antiviral activity, suggesting that ubiquitin-conjugating enzymatic activity was required for the suppressive role of UBE2S. Chromatin ubiquitination plays a crucial role in the DNA damage response. We showed that the levels of UBE2S and Lys11 chains bound to the chromatin were markedly decreased in the context of HCV replication, rendering HCV-infected cells more sensitive to DNA damage. These data suggest that HCV counteracts antiviral activity of UBE2S to optimize viral propagation and may contribute to HCV-induced liver pathogenesis.IMPORTANCE Protein homeostasis is essential to normal cell function. HCV infection disturbs the protein homeostasis in the host cells. Therefore, host cells exert an anti-HCV activity in order to maintain normal cellular metabolism. We showed that UBE2S interacted with HCV NS5A and degraded NS5A protein through the Lys11-linked proteasome-dependent pathway. However, HCV has evolved to overcome host antiviral activity. We demonstrated that the UBE2S expression level was suppressed in HCV-infected cells. Since UBE2S is an ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme and this enzyme activity is involved in DNA damage repair, HCV-infected cells are more sensitive to DNA damage, and thus UBE2S may contribute to viral oncogenesis.


UBE2S,hepatitis C virus,ubiquitin proteasome system,viral propagation,