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Virology. 1999 Oct 10;263(1):30-41.

Hepatitis C virus RNA polymerase and NS5A complex with a SNARE-like protein.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, California 90033, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5A is a phosphoprotein that possesses a cryptic trans-activation activity. To investigate its potential role in viral replication, we searched for the cellular proteins interacting with NS5A protein by yeast two-hybrid screening of a human hepatocyte cDNA library. We identified a newly discovered soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor-like protein termed human vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein of 33 kDa (hVAP-33). In vitro binding assay and in vivo coimmunoprecipitation studies confirmed the interaction between hVAP-33 and NS5A. Interestingly, hVAP-33 was also shown to interact with NS5B, the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. NS5A and NS5B bind to different domains of hVAP-33: NS5A binds to the C-terminus, whereas NS5B binds to the N-terminus of hVAP-33. Immunofluorescent staining showed a significant colocalization of hVAP-33 with both NS5A and NS5B proteins. hVAP-33 contains a coiled-coil domain followed by a membrane-spanning domain at its C-terminus. Cell fractionation analysis revealed that hVAP-33 is predominantly associated with the ER, the Golgi complex, and the prelysosomal membrane, consistent with its potential role in intracellular membrane trafficking. These interactions provide a mechanism for membrane association of the HCV RNA replication complex and further suggest that NS5A is a part of the viral RNA replication complex.

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