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Microbiol Immunol. 2003;47(6):429-38.

Hepatitis C virus core protein selectively inhibits synthesis and accumulation of p21/Waf1 and certain nuclear proteins.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0017, Japan.


By using a vaccinia virus-T7 expression system, possible effects of hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein on synthesis and accumulation of host cellular proteins transiently expressed in cultured cells were analyzed. Immunoblot and immunofluorescence analyses revealed that synthesis and accumulation of certain nuclear proteins, such as p21/Waf1, p53, proliferating cell nuclear antigen and c-Fos, were strongly inhibited by HCV core protein. On the other hand, synthesis and accumulation of cytoplasmic proteins, such as 2'-5'-oligoadenylate synthetase (2'-5'-OAS), RNase L and MEK1, were barely affected by HCV core protein. Northern blot analysis showed that the degrees of mRNA expression for those proteins did not differ between HCV core protein-expressing cells and the control, suggesting that the inhibition occurred at the post-transcription level. Pulse-labeling analysis suggested that HCV core protein strongly inhibited synthesis of p21/Waf1 at the translation level. Once being accumulated in the nucleus, p21/Waf1 stability was not significantly affected by HCV core protein. Mutants of HCV core protein C-terminally deleted by 18 or 41 amino acids (aa), which were localized almost exclusively in the nucleus, lost their ability to inhibit synthesis/accumulation of p21/Waf1 whereas another mutant C-terminally deleted by 8 aa still maintained the same properties (subcellular localization and the inhibitory effect) as the full-length HCV core protein of 191 aa. Taken together, our present results suggest that expression of HCV core protein in the cytoplasm selectively inhibits synthesis of p21/Waf1 and some other nuclear proteins at the translation level.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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