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J Virol. 2007 May;81(10):5036-45. Epub 2007 Feb 28.

CD81 expression is important for the permissiveness of Huh7 cell clones for heterogeneous hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Pharmaceutical Research Laboratories, Toray Industries, Inc., Kanagawa, Japan.


Huh7 cells constitute a permissive cell line for cell culture of hepatitis C virus (HCV) particles. However, our Huh7 line shows limited permissiveness for HCV. Thus, in this study we set out to determine which host factors are important for conferring permissiveness. To analyze the limited permissiveness of our Huh7 cells, 70 clones were obtained after single-cell cloning of parental Huh7 cells. The cloned Huh7 cells exhibited various levels of HCV pseudoparticles and JFH-1 virus infection efficiency, and some clones were not permissive. A subgenomic replicon was then transfected into the cloned Huh7 cells. While the replication efficiencies differed among the cloned Huh7 cells, these efficiencies did not correlate with infectious permissibility. Flow cytometry showed that CD81, scavenger receptor class B type I, and low-density-lipoprotein receptor expression on the cell surfaces of the Huh7 clones differed among the clones. Interestingly, we found that all of the permissive cell clones expressed CD81 while the nonpermissive cell clones did not. To confirm the importance of CD81 expression for HCV permissiveness, CD81 was then transiently and stably expressed on a nonpermissive Huh7 cell clone, which was consequently restored to HCV infection permissiveness. Furthermore, permissiveness was down-regulated upon transfection of CD81 silencing RNA into a CD81-positive cell clone. In conclusion, CD81 expression is an important determinant of HCV permissiveness of Huh7 cell clones harboring different characteristics.

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