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Nat Biotechnol. 2010 Feb;28(2):167-71. doi: 10.1038/nbt.1604. Epub 2010 Jan 31.

Real-time imaging of hepatitis C virus infection using a fluorescent cell-based reporter system.

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  • 1Center for the Study of Hepatitis C, Laboratory of Virology and Infectious Disease, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which infects 2-3% of the world population, is a causative agent of chronic hepatitis and the leading indication for liver transplantation. The ability to propagate HCV in cell culture (HCVcc) is a relatively recent breakthrough and a key tool in the quest for specific antiviral therapeutics. Monitoring HCV infection in culture generally involves bulk population assays, use of genetically modified viruses and/or terminal processing of potentially precious samples. Here we develop a cell-based fluorescent reporter system that allows sensitive distinction of individual HCV-infected cells in live or fixed samples. We demonstrate use of this technology for several previously intractable applications, including live-cell imaging of viral propagation and host response, as well as visualizing infection of primary hepatocyte cultures. Integration of this reporter with modern image-based analysis methods could open new doors for HCV research.

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