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J Virol. 2000 Apr;74(8):3623-33.

Charged residues in the transmembrane domains of hepatitis C virus glycoproteins play a major role in the processing, subcellular localization, and assembly of these envelope proteins.

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  • 1CNRS-UMR8526, IBL/Institut Pasteur de Lille, 59021 Lille Cedex, France.


For most membrane proteins, the transmembrane domain (TMD) is more than just an anchor to the membrane. The TMDs of hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope proteins E1 and E2 are extreme examples of the multifunctionality of such membrane-spanning sequences. Indeed, they possess a signal sequence function in their C-terminal half, play a major role in endoplasmic reticulum localization of E1 and E2, and are potentially involved in the assembly of these envelope proteins. These multiple functions are supposed to be essential for the formation of the viral envelope. As for the other viruses of the family Flaviviridae, these anchor domains are composed of two stretches of hydrophobic residues separated by a short segment containing at least one fully conserved charged residue. Replacement of these charged residues by an alanine in HCV envelope proteins led to an alteration of all of the functions performed by their TMDs, indicating that these functions are tightly linked together. These data suggest that the charged residues of the TMDs of HCV glycoproteins play a key role in the formation of the viral envelope.

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