Contrasting roles of mitogen-activated protein kinases in cellular entry and replication of hepatitis C virus: MKNK1 facilitates cell entry

Seungtaek Kim, Hisashi Ishida, Daisuke Yamane, Min Kyung Yi, David C. Swinney, Steven Foung, Stanley M. Lemon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The human kinome comprises over 800 individual kinases. These contribute in multiple ways to regulation of cellularmetabolism and may have direct and indirect effects on virus replication. Kinases are tempting therapeutic targets for drug development, but achieving sufficient specificity is often a challenge for chemical inhibitors. While using inhibitors to assess whether c-Jun N-terminal (JNK) kinases regulate hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication, we encountered unexpected off-target effects that led us to discover a role for a mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-related kinase, MAPKinteracting serine/threonine kinase 1 (MKNK1), in viral entry. Two JNK inhibitors, AS601245 and SP600125, as well as RNAinterference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of JNK1 and JNK2, enhanced replication of HCV replicon RNAs as well as infectiousgenome-length RNA transfected into Huh-7 cells. JNK knockdown also enhanced replication following infection with cell-free virus, suggesting that JNK actively restricts HCV replication. Despite this, AS601245 and SP600125 both inhibited viral entry. Screening of a panel of inhibitors targeting kinases that may be modulated by off-target effects of AS601245 and SP600125 led us to identify MKNK1 as a host factor involved in HCV entry. Chemical inhibition or siRNA knockdown of MKNK1 significantly impaired entry of genotype 1a HCV and HCV-pseudotyped lentiviral particles (HCVpp) in Huh-7 cells buthad only minimal impact on viral RNA replication or cell proliferation and viability. We propose a model by which MKNK1 acts to facilitate viral entry downstream of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK), both of which have been implicated in the entry process.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4214-4224
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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