The liver has been suspected to be one of the major targets of dengue virus infection. Here, we detected increasing secretion of the chemokine RANTES (regulated upon activation, normal T cell expressed and secreted), which functions to recruit the immune cells, in dengue-virus-infected liver cells and patients. Three luciferase reporter genes with various deletions at the 5'-end of the RANTES promoter were constructed to explore the RANTES activation mechanism in human liver cells. The reporter gene was optimally activated by dengue-2 virus when the RANTES promoter contains the region from the transcription starting site (+1) to the nucleotide at the -181 position. NF-IL-6 and an undefined factor forming DNA-protein complexes in the RANTES promoter E and A/B regions in the infected cells were demonstrated by electrophoretic mobility shift assay. Further analysis showed that oxidative stress was an upstream inducer of NF-IL-6 and RANTES signaling in dengue-virus-infected liver cells. This finding was demonstrated by three antioxidants (N-acetyl-L-cysteine, nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, and pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate) used to suppress the activation. In contrast, the DNA binding activity of the undefined factor was not affected by the antioxidant treatment, indicating the existence of an oxidant-independent pathway. We hypothesize that dengue virus infection of the liver cells may trigger both an oxidant-dependent and an oxidant-independent pathway to up-regulate RANTES mRNA expression through activating NF-IL-6 and an undefined factor, respectively. In conclusion, the present study suggests a new direction for the study of liver pathogenesis involving RANTES in host immune responses during dengue virus infection. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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