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HCV genotype 1-6 NS3 residue 80 substitutions impact protease inhibitor activity and promote viral escape

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Background & Aims: Protease inhibitors (PIs) are of central importance in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. HCV NS3 protease (NS3P) position 80 displays polymorphisms associated with resistance to the PI simeprevir for HCV genotype 1a. We investigated the effects of position-80-substitutions on fitness and PI-resistance for HCV genotypes 1-6, and analyzed evolutionary mechanisms underlying viral escape mediated by pre-existing Q80K. Methods: The fitness of infectious NS3P recombinants of HCV genotypes 1-6, with engineered position-80-substitutions, was studied by comparison of viral spread kinetics in Huh-7.5 cells in culture. Median effective concentration (EC50) and fold resistance for PIs simeprevir, asunaprevir, paritaprevir, grazoprevir, glecaprevir and voxilaprevir were determined in short-term treatment assays. Viral escape was studied by long-term treatment of genotype 1a recombinants with simeprevir, grazoprevir, glecaprevir and voxilaprevir and of genotype 3a recombinants with glecaprevir and voxilaprevir, next generation sequencing, NS3P substitution linkage and haplotype analysis. Results: Among tested PIs, only glecaprevir and voxilaprevir showed pan-genotypic activity against the original genotype 1-6 culture viruses. Variants with position-80-substitutions were all viable, but fitness depended on the specific substitution and the HCV isolate. Q80K conferred resistance to simeprevir across genotypes but had only minor effects on the activity of the remaining PIs. For genotype 1a, pre-existing Q80K mediated accelerated escape from simeprevir, grazoprevir and to a lesser extent glecaprevir, but not voxilaprevir. For genotype 3a, Q80K mediated accelerated escape from glecaprevir and voxilaprevir. Escape was mediated by rapid and genotype-, PI- and PI-concentration-dependent co-selection of clinically relevant resistance associated substitutions. Conclusions: Position-80-substitutions had relatively low fitness cost and the potential to promote HCV escape from clinically relevant PIs in vitro, despite having a minor impact on results in classical short-term resistance assays. Lay summary: Among all clinically relevant hepatitis C virus protease inhibitors, voxilaprevir and glecaprevir showed the highest and most uniform activity against cell culture infectious hepatitis C virus with genotype 1-6 proteases. Naturally occurring amino acid changes at protease position 80 had low fitness cost and influenced sensitivity to simeprevir, but not to other protease inhibitors in short-term treatment assays. Nevertheless, the pre-existing change Q80K had the potential to promote viral escape from protease inhibitors during long-term treatment by rapid co-selection of additional resistance changes, detected by next generation sequencing.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Hepatology
Volume70
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)388-397
Number of pages10
ISSN0168-8278
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2018 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Asunaprevir, Direct-acting antiviral, Glecaprevir, Grazoprevir, Linkage analysis, Paritaprevir, Q80K, Resistance, Resistance associated substitutions, Simeprevir, Voxilaprevir, Hepatitis C virus

ID: 55573940