IFN-α has been used for decades to treat chronic hepatitis B and C, and as an off-label treatment for some cases of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection. TNF-α is another important cytokine involved in inflammatory disease, which can interact with interferon signaling. Because interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) are the ultimate antiviral effectors of the interferon signaling, this study aimed to understand the regulation of ISG transcription and the antiviral activity by IFN-α and TNF-α. In this study, treatment of TNF-α inhibited replication of HCV by 71 ± 2.4% and HEV by 41 ± 4.9%. Interestingly, TNF-α induced the expression of a panel of antiviral ISGs (2-11 fold). Blocking the TNF-α signaling by Humira abrogated ISG induction and its antiviral activity. Chip-seq data analysis and mutagenesis assay further revealed that the NF-κ B protein complex, a key downstream element of TNF-α signaling, directly binds to the ISRE motif in the ISG promoters and thereby drives their transcription. This process is independent of interferons and JAK-STAT cascade. Importantly, when combined with IFN-α, TNF-α works cooperatively on ISG induction, explaining their additive antiviral effects. Thus, our study reveals a novel mechanism of convergent transcription of ISGs by TNF-α and IFN-α, which augments their antiviral activity against HCV and HEV.

doi.org/10.1038/srep25482, hdl.handle.net/1765/88275
Scientific Reports
Department of Gastroenterology & Hepatology

Wang, W., Xu, L., Brandsma, J., Wang, Y., Hakim, M., Zhou, X., … Pan, Q. (2016). Convergent Transcription of Interferon-stimulated Genes by TNF-α and IFN-α Augments Antiviral Activity against HCV and HEV. Scientific Reports, 6. doi:10.1038/srep25482