Hepatitis C virus depends on E-cadherin as an entry factor and regulates its expression in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

Qisheng Li, Catherine Sodroski, Brianna Lowey, Cameron J. Schweitzer, Helen Cha, Fang Zhang, T. Jake Liang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) enters the host cell through interactions with a cascade of cellular factors. Although significant progress has been made in understanding HCV entry, the precise mechanisms by which HCV exploits the receptor complex and host machinery to enter the cell remain unclear. This intricate process of viral entry likely depends on additional yet-to-be-defined cellular molecules. Recently, by applying integrative functional genomics approaches, we identified and interrogated distinct sets of host dependencies in the complete HCV life cycle. Viral entry assays using HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpps) of various genotypes uncovered multiple previously unappreciated host factors, including E-cadherin, that mediate HCV entry. E-cadherin silencing significantly inhibited HCV infection in Huh7.5.1 cells, HepG2/miR122/CD81 cells, and primary human hepatocytes at a postbinding entry step. Knockdown of E-cadherin, however, had no effect on HCV RNA replication or internal ribosomal entry site (IRES)-mediated translation. In addition, an E-cadherin monoclonal antibody effectively blocked HCV entry and infection in hepatocytes. Mechanistic studies demonstrated that E-cadherin is closely associated with claudin-1 (CLDN1) and occludin (OCLN) on the cell membrane. Depletion of E-cadherin drastically diminished the cell-surface distribution of these two tight junction proteins in various hepatic cell lines, indicating that E-cadherin plays an important regulatory role in CLDN1/OCLN localization on the cell surface. Furthermore, loss of E-cadherin expression in hepatocytes is associated with HCVinduced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), providing an important link between HCV infection and liver cancer. Our data indicate that a dynamic interplay among E-cadherin, tight junctions, and EMT exists and mediates an important function in HCV entry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7620-7625
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 5 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • E-cadherin
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Tight junction
  • Viral entry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


Dive into the research topics of 'Hepatitis C virus depends on E-cadherin as an entry factor and regulates its expression in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this