The hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle is tightly regulated by lipid metabolism of host cells. In order to identify host factors involved in HCV propagation, we have recently screened a small interfering RNA (siRNA) library targeting host genes that control lipid metabolism and lipid droplet formation using cell culture-grown HCV (HCVcc)-infected cells. We selected and characterized the gene encoding stearoyl coenzyme A (CoA) desaturase 1 (SCD1). siRNA-mediated knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of SCD1 abrogated HCV replication in both subgenomic replicon and Jc1-infected cells, while exogenous supplementation of either oleate or palmitoleate, products of SCD1 activity, resurrected HCV replication in SCD1 knockdown cells. SCD1 was coimmunoprecipitated with HCV nonstructural proteins and colocalized with both double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) and HCV nonstructural proteins, indicating that SCD1 is associated with HCV replication complex. Moreover, SCD1 was fractionated and enriched with HCV nonstructural proteins at detergent-resistant membrane. Electron microscopy data showed that SCD1 is required for NS4B-mediated intracellular membrane rearrangement. These data further support the idea that SCD1 is associated with HCV replication complex and that its products may contribute to the proper formation and maintenance of membranous web structures in HCV replication complex. Collectively, these data suggest that manipulation of SCD1 activity may represent a novel host-targeted antiviral strategy for the treatment of HCV infection.
Journal of Virology, 2014, Vol 88, Issue 21, p. 12311-12325