Evolution of hepatitis C virus non-structural 5A gene in the progression of liver disease to hepatocellular carcinoma

Maria Stella De Mitri, Romina Cassini, Sabrina Bagaglio, Giulia Morsica, Pietro Andreone, Nicoletta Marino, Mauro Bernardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The interaction between the hepatitis C virus (HCV) non-structural 5A (NS5A) protein of HCVand the protein kinase R (PKR), which is an effector of the cellular antiviral response and has been defined as a tumour suppressor, may affect the control of protein synthesis and cell growth. Aim: We investigated the genetic evolution of the NS5A region in the NS5A PKR-binding domain (NS5APKRbd) of patients with HCV 1b-related cirrhosis who subsequently developed or not hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Patients and Methods: The quasispecies composition of NS5A-PKRbd was inferred by sequencing an average of 15 clones per sample in specimens obtained from 26 patients with cirrhosis who developed or not HCC during a follow-up of 5 years. Results: At baseline, 13/17 patients with final HCC and six out of nine patients with cirrhosis who subsequently did not develop HCC harboured a wild-type (wt) strain master sequence. Over time, the prevalence of wt strain was higher in patients who developed HCC with respect to those who maintained the cirrhosis status (15/17 vs 4/9, respectively; P = 0.0166). Conclusion: The maintenance of or evolution to the wt strain of the NS5A domain in cirrhotic patients with final HCC highlights the central role of NS5A protein in the viral life cycle and in the progression of liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1126-1133
Number of pages8
JournalLiver International
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2007


  • Cirrhosis
  • Hepatitis C virus
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Non-structural 5 A protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology


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