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J Med Virol. 1999 Oct;59(2):131-4.

Specific in vitro association between the hepatitis C viral genome and core protein.

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Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research, Sir Mortimer B. Davis-Jewish General Hospital, McGill University, Montréal, Canada.


Little is known about the molecular interactions required for hepatitis C virion assembly. The 5' noncoding region (5'NCR) of the RNA genome is highly conserved and has extensive secondary structure. The highly basic core protein is rich in arginine and lysine residues. We postulate that a specific interaction between these structures may be important for virion assembly. Using an RNA gel mobility shift assay, a specific interaction has been demonstrated between the RNA of the 5'NCR and recombinant core protein. Proteins from other regions of the virus do not interact with the viral RNA. The interaction is inhibited competitively by unlabelled sense polarity RNA, but antisense 5'NCR RNA and nonspecific RNAs compete only at much higher concentrations. These data suggest that there is a specific interaction between the 5'NCR of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) genome and HCV core protein. This interaction may be important for the specific encapsidation of the viral genome during HCV replication.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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