STAT3 signaling pathway plays importantly genetic and functional roles in HCV infection

Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2019 Aug;7(8):e821. doi: 10.1002/mgg3.821. Epub 2019 Jun 20.


Background: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an extensive health problem, which leads to serious liver diseases. Host genetic polymorphisms were associated with HCV infection, progression, and treatment effect of patients. Signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) signaling pathway was important to HCV infection, but no genetic association was studied between STAT3 signaling pathway and HCV infection.

Methods: To investigate the genetic and functional roles of the STAT3 signaling pathway, we collected 394 HCV patients and 395 normal controls to genotype 25 signal nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of six genes (Interleukin 6 [IL6, OMIM 147620], Interleukin 6 receptor [IL6R, OMIM 147880], Hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 alpha [HNF1A, OMIM 142410], Hepatocyte nuclear factor 4 alpha [HNF4A, OMIM 600281], STAT3 [OMIM 102582], and ATP binding cassette subfamily C member 2 [ABCC2, OMIM 601107]). Then expression level of these genes were analyzed in HCV infected cells with or without IL6 transfection.

Results: Our results identified that the SNPs in STAT3 signaling pathway were associated with HCV infection or biochemical features of Yunnan HCV patients. Genotype AA of rs4075015 (IL6R) and GG of rs3212172 (HNF4A) increased the risk of HCV infection (p = 0.024 and 0.029), but the genotype AA of rs7553796 (IL6R) played a protective role in HCV infection (p = 0.0008). High-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) and Glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) level were associated with genotypes of rs4845617 (IL6R, p = 0.045) and rs1053023 (STAT3, p = 0.034), respectively. Cell assays suggested that IL6 transfection could suppress HCV proliferation. RNA and protein levels of the IL6R, HNF1A, STAT3, and ABCC2 genes significantly increased after HCV infection.

Conclusion: We identified STAT3 signaling pathway influenced HCV infection and biochemical characteristics of HCV patients through genetic and functional aspects.

Keywords: HCV; STAT3 signaling pathway; biochemical characteristics; functional; genetic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • China
  • Female
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / isolation & purification
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / blood
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / genetics*
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / pathology
  • Hepatitis C, Chronic / virology
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4 / genetics*
  • Hepatocytes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Liver / virology
  • Male
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins / metabolism
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6 / genetics*
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • ABCC2 protein, human
  • HNF4A protein, human
  • Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor 4
  • IL6R protein, human
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Proteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Receptors, Interleukin-6
  • STAT3 Transcription Factor
  • STAT3 protein, human