Dengue is a global emerging infectious disease, with no specific treatment available. To identify novel human host cell targets important for dengue virus infection and replication, an image-based high-throughput siRNA assay screening of a human kinome siRNA library was conducted using human hepatocyte cell line Huh7 infected with a recent dengue serotype 2 virus isolate BR DEN2 01-01. In the primary siRNA screening of 779 kinase-related genes, knockdown of 22 genes showed a reduction in DENV-2 infection. Conversely, knockdown of 8 genes enhanced viral infection. To assess host cell specificity, the confirmed hits were tested in the DENV-infected monocytic cell line U937. While the expression of EIF2AK3, ETNK2 and SMAD7 was regulated in both cell lines after infection, most kinases were hepatocyte-specific. Monocytic cells represent initial targets of infection and an antiviral treatment targeting these cells is probably most effective to reduce initial viral load. In turn, infection of the liver could contribute to pathogenesis, and the novel hepatocyte-specific human targets identified here could be important for dengue infection and pathogenesis.
Keywords: Dengue; Host cell targets; Kinase; siRNA.
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