Galectin-9 and Interferon-Gamma Are Released by Natural Killer Cells upon Activation with Interferon-Alpha and Orchestrate the Suppression of Hepatitis C Virus Infection.

Carreca AP, Gaetani M, Busà R, Francipane MG, Gulotta MR, Perricone U, Iannolo G, Russelli G, Carcione C, Conaldi PG, Badami E

Viruses 14 (7) - [2022-07-14; online 2022-07-14]

Natural killer (NK) cells mount an immune response against hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and can be activated by several cytokines, including interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-15, and interferon-alpha (IFN-α). By exploiting the Huh7.5 hepatoma cell line infected with the HCV JFH1 genome, we provide novel insights into the antiviral effector functions of human primary NK cells after cytokine stimulation. NK cells activated with IFN-α (IFNα-NKs) had enhanced contact-dependent and -independent responses as compared with NK cells activated with IL-2/IL-15 (IL2/IL15-NKs) and could inhibit HCV replication both in vitro and in vivo. Importantly, IFN-α, but not IL-2/IL-15, protected NK cells from the functional inhibition exerted by HCV. By performing flow cytometry, multiplex cytokine profiling, and mass-spectrometry-based proteomics, we discovered that IFNα-NKs secreted high levels of galectin-9 and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), and by conducting neutralization assays, we confirmed the major role of these molecules in HCV suppression. We speculated that galectin-9 might act extracellularly to inhibit HCV binding to host cells and downstream infection. In silico approaches predicted the binding of HCV envelope protein E2 to galectin-9 carbohydrate-recognition domains, and co-immunoprecipitation assays confirmed physical interaction. IFN-γ, on the other hand, triggered the intracellular expressions of two antiviral gate-keepers in target cells, namely, myxovirus-1 (MX1) and interferon-induced protein with tetratricopeptide repeats 1 (IFIT1). Collectively, our data add more complexity to the antiviral innate response mediated by NK cells and highlight galectin-9 as a key molecule that might be exploited to neutralize productive viral infection.

Chemical Proteomics [Collaborative]

PubMed 35891518

DOI 10.3390/v14071538

Crossref 10.3390/v14071538

pii: v14071538
pmc: PMC9317111

Publications 8.1.1