Hepatitis C Virus Triggers Mitochondrial Fission and Attenuates Apoptosis to Promote Viral Persistence
Mitophagy is a mitochondrial-recycling process, where defective mitochondria are targeted for removal and their components broken down for subsequent use by the cell. In this study, the authors show that HCV promotes fission of the mitochondrial network, followed by increased mitophagy, mediated by a protein called parkin. This in turn attenuates HCV-induced apoptosis, or cell death. They find that HCV induces Drp1 phosphorylation, which activates fission, and silencing Drp1 prevented HCV-induced fission and an increase in apoptotic signalling. This study demonstrates how a virus may take control of the bioenergetic infrastructure of a cell, to encourage its own persistence.