1887

Abstract

Drug resistance mutations of hepatitis C virus (HCV) negatively impact viral replicative fitness. RNA viruses are known to change their replication behaviour when subjected to suboptimal selection pressure. Here, we assess whether mutation supply in HCV is sufficiently large to allow the selection of its variants during dual or triple direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment associated with augmented virus fitness or impairment. We engineered randomly mutagenized full-genome libraries to create a highly diverse population of replication-competent HCV variants in cell culture. These variants exhibited escape when treated with NS5A/NS5B inhibitors (daclatasvir/sofosbuvir), and relapse on treatment with a combination of NS3/NS5A/NS5B inhibitors (simeprevir or paritaprevir/daclatasvir/sofosbuvir). Analysis of the relationship between virus fitness and drug resistance of JFH1-derived NS5A-5B variants showed a significant positive correlation (=0.003). At the earliest time points, intracellular RNA levels remain unchanged in both the subgenomic replicon and infection assays, whereas extracellular RNA levels increased upto ten-fold compared to wild-type JFH1. Beneficial substitutions hyperstimulated phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate during DAA treatment, and showed decreased dependence on cyclophilins during cyclosporine A treatment, indicating an interplay of virus–host molecular mechanisms in beneficial substitution selection that may necessitate infectious virus production. This comprehensive study demonstrates a possible role for HCV fitness of overcoming drug-mediated selection pressure.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Department of Biotechnology, Government of India (Award BT/PR10906/MED/29/860/2014)
    • Principle Award Recipient: Suresh VeerapuNaga
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2022-02-08
2022-07-06
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