Inherent transcriptional signatures of NK cells are associated with response to IFNΑ+rivabirin therapy in patients with Hepatitis C Virus

Maria Libera Ascierto, Federica Bozzano, Davide Bedognetti, Francesco Marras, Cathy Schechterly, Kentaro Matsuura, Antonino Picciotto, Simona Marenco, Yingdong Zhao, Valeria DeGiorgi, Michele Sommariva, Lorenzo Moretta, Ena Wang, Harvey J. Alter, Francesco M. Marincola, Andrea De Maria

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Differences in the expression of Natural Killer cell receptors have been reported to reflect divergent clinical courses in patients with chronic infections or tumors. However, extensive molecular characterization at the transcriptional level to support this view is lacking. The aim of this work was to characterize baseline differences in purified NK cell transcriptional activity stratified by response to treatment with PEG-IFNΑ/RBV in patients chronically infected with HCV. Methods: To this end we here studied by flow cytometer and gene expression profile, phenotypic and transcriptional characteristics of purified NK cells in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype-1 virus who were subsequently treated with PEG-IFNΑ/RBV. Results were further correlated with divergent clinical response obtained after treatment. Results: The pre-treatment transcriptional patterns of purified NK cells from patients subsequently undergoing a sustained virologic response (SVR) clearly segregated from those of non-responder (NR) patients. A set of 476 transcripts, including molecules involved in RNA processing, ubiquitination pathways as well as HLA class II signalling were differently expressed among divergent patients. In addition, treatment outcome was associated with differences in surface expression of NKp30 and NKG2D. A complex relationship was observed that suggested for extensive post-transcriptional editing. Only a small number of the NK cell transcripts identified were correlated with chronic HCV infection/replication indicating that inherent transcriptional activity prevails over environment effects such as viral infection. Conclusions: Collectively, inherent/genetic modulation of NK cell transcription is involved in setting the path to divergent treatment outcomes and could become useful to therapeutic advantage.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalJournal of Translational Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015



  • Clinical response
  • HCV infection
  • NK cells
  • Regulation of NK cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

Cite this

Ascierto, M. L., Bozzano, F., Bedognetti, D., Marras, F., Schechterly, C., Matsuura, K., Picciotto, A., Marenco, S., Zhao, Y., DeGiorgi, V., Sommariva, M., Moretta, L., Wang, E., Alter, H. J., Marincola, F. M., & De Maria, A. (2015). Inherent transcriptional signatures of NK cells are associated with response to IFNΑ+rivabirin therapy in patients with Hepatitis C Virus. Journal of Translational Medicine, 13(1), [77].