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J Virol. 2011 Mar;85(6):2793-802. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01818-10. Epub 2010 Dec 22.

Tupaia CD81, SR-BI, claudin-1, and occludin support hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Shanghai Key Laboratory of Medical Biodefense, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related research has been hampered by the lack of appropriate small-animal models. It has been reported that tree shrews, or tupaias (Tupaia belangeri), can be infected with serum-derived HCV. However, these reports do not firmly establish the tupaia as a reliable model of HCV infection. Human CD81, scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI), claudin 1 (CLDN1), and occludin (OCLN) are considered essential receptors or coreceptors for HCV cell entry. In the present study, the roles of these tupaia orthologs in HCV infection were assessed. Both CD81 and SR-BI of tupaia were found to be able to bind with HCV envelope protein 2 (E2). In comparison with human CD81, tupaia CD81 exhibited stronger binding activity with E2 and increased HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) cell entry 2-fold. The 293T cells transfected with tupaia CLDN1 became susceptible to HCVpp infection. Moreover, simultaneous transfection of the four tupaia factors into mouse NIH 3T3 cells made the cells susceptible to HCVpp infection. HCVpp of diverse genotypes were able to infect primary tupaia hepatocytes (PTHs), and this infection could be blocked by either anti-CD81 or anti-SR-BI. PTHs could be infected by cell culture-produced HCV (HCVcc) and did produce infectious progeny virus in culture supernatant. These findings indicate that PTHs possess all of the essential factors required for HCV entry and support the complete HCV infection cycle. This highlights both the mechanisms of susceptibility of tupaia to HCV infection and the possibility of using tupaia as a promising small-animal model in HCV study.

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