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Microbiol Immunol. 2004;48(8):591-8.

Suppression of hepatitis C virus replicon by RNA interference directed against the NS3 and NS5B regions of the viral genome.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, 7-5-1 Kusunoki-cho, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 650-0017, Japan.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a phenomenon in which small interfering RNA (siRNA), an RNA duplex 21 to 23 nucleotides (nt) long, or short hairpin RNA (shRNA) resembling siRNA, mediates degradation of the target RNA molecule in a sequence-specific manner. RNAi is now expected to be a useful therapeutic strategy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In the present study we compared the efficacy of a number of shRNAs directed against different target regions of the HCV genome, such as 5'-untranslated region (5'UTR) (nt 286 to 304), Core (nt 371 to 389), NS3-1 (nt 2052 to 2060), NS3-2 (nt 2104 to 2122), and NS5B (nt 7326 to 7344), all of which except for NS5B are conserved among most, if not all, HCV subtype 1b (HCV-1b) isolates in Japan. We utilized two methods to express shRNAs, one utilizing an expression plasmid (pAVU6+27) and the other utilizing a recombinant lentivirus harboring the pAVU6+27-derived expression cassette. Although 5'UTR has been considered to be the most suitable region for therapeutic siRNA and/or shRNA because of its extremely high degree of sequence conservation, we observed only a faint suppression of an HCV subgenomic replicon by shRNA against 5'UTR. In both plasmid-and lentivirus-mediated expression systems, shRNAs against NS3-1 and NS5B suppressed most efficiently the replication of the HCV replicon without suppressing host cellular gene expression. Synthetic siRNA against NS3-1 also inhibited replication of the HCV replicon in a dose-dependent manner. Taken together, the present results imply the possibility that the recombinant lentivirus expressing shRNA against NS3-1 would be a useful tool to inhibit HCV-1b infection.

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