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For Hepatitis C virus (HCV), initiation of translation is cap-independently mediated by its internal ribosome entry site (IRES). Unlike other IRES-containing viruses that shut off host cap-dependent translation, translation of HCV coexists with that of the host. How HCV IRES-mediated translation is regulated in the infected cells remains unclear. Here, we show that the intracellular level of 40S ribosomal subunit plays a key role in facilitating HCV translation over host translation. In a loss-of-function screen, we identified small subunit ribosomal protein 6 (RPS6) as an indispensable host factor for HCV propagation. Knockdown of RPS6 selectively repressed HCV IRES-mediated translation, but not general translation. Such preferential suppression of HCV translation correlated well with the reduction of the abundance of 40S ribosomal subunit following knockdown of RPS6 or other RPS genes. In contrast, reduction of the amount of ribosomal proteins of the 60S subunit did not produce similar effects. Among the components of general translation machineries, only knockdowns of RPS genes caused inhibitory effects on HCV translation, pointing out the unique role of 40S subunit abundance in HCV translation. This work demonstrates an unconventional notion that the translation initiation of HCV and host possess different susceptibility toward reduction of 40S ribosomal subunit, and provides a model of selective modulation of IRES-mediated translation through manipulating the level of 40S subunit.

Citation

Jing-Ying Huang, Wen-Chi Su, King-Song Jeng, Tien-Hsien Chang, Michael M C Lai. Attenuation of 40S ribosomal subunit abundance differentially affects host and HCV translation and suppresses HCV replication. PLoS pathogens. 2012 Jun;8(6):e1002766

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PMID: 22792060

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