Scientific reports 2017 03 097() 44039 doi 10.1038/srep44039
Previous studies have shown that mycophenolic acid (MPA) has an anti-HCV activity. However, the mechanism of MPA-mediated inhibition of HCV replication remains to be determined. This study investigated whether MPA has an effect on autophagy, a cellular machinery required for HCV replication, thereby, inhibits HCV replication in Huh7 cells. MPA treatment of Huh7 cells could suppress autophagy, evidenced by decreased LC3B-II level and conversion of LC3B-I to LC3B-II, decreased autophagosome formation, and increased p62 level compared to MPA-untreated cells. Tunicamycin treatment or HCV infection could induce cellular autophagy, however, MPA also exhibited its inhibitory effect on tunicamycin- or HCV infection-induced autophagy. The expression of three autophagy-related genes, Atg3, Atg5, and Atg7 were identified to be inhibited by MPA treatment. Over-expression of these genes could partly recover HCV replication inhibited by MPA; however, silencing their expression by siRNAs could enhance the inhibitory effect of MPA on HCV. Collectively, these results reveal that suppression of autophagy by MPA plays a role in its anti-HCV activity. Down-regulating the expression of three autophagy-related genes by MPA involves in its antiviral mechanism.