Dell Death Dis. 2020;11:200. doi:10.1038/s41419-020-2400-9
Interferon lambda-2 (IL28A) has a wide antiviral effect with fewer side-effects. Autophagy is a host mechanism to maintain intracellular homeostasis and defends invasion of pathogenic microorganisms. HCV NS5A can disable host defense systems to support HCV replication. Thus, molecular mechanism of interaction among interferon lambda, autophagy, and HCV was concerned and explored in this study. We report that HCV NS5A activated an incomplete autophagy by promoting the autophagic ubiquitylation-like enzymes ATG3, ATG5, ATG7, ATG10, and autophagosome maker LC3B, but blocked autophagy flux; IL28A bound to NS5A at NS5A-ISDR region, and degraded HCV-NS5A by promoting autolysosome formations in HepG2 cells. A software prediction of IL28A protein conformation indicated a potential structure of IL28A homotetramer; the first α-helix of IL28A locates in the interfaces among the four IL28A chains to maintain IL28A homotetrameric conformation. Co-IP and cell immunofluorescence experiments with sequential deletion mutants demonstrate that IL28A preferred a homotetramer conformation to a monomer in the cells; the IL28A homotetramer is positively correlated with autolysosomal degradation of HCV NS5A and the other HCV proteins. Summarily, the first α-helix of IL28A protein is the key domain for maintaining IL28A homotetramer which is required for promoting formation of autolysosomes and degradation of HCV proteins in vitro.
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