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J Virol. 2003 Jan;77(2):1578-83.

Hepatitis C virus f protein is a short-lived protein associated with the endoplasmic reticulum.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033-1054, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) F protein is a newly discovered HCV gene product that is expressed by translational ribosomal frameshift. Little is known about the biological properties of this protein. By performing pulse-chase labeling experiments, we demonstrate here that the F protein is a labile protein with a half-life of <10 min in Huh7 hepatoma cells and in vitro. The half-life of the F protein could be substantially increased by proteasome inhibitors, suggesting that the rapid degradation of the F protein is mediated by the proteasome pathway. Further immunofluorescence staining and subcellular fractionation experiments indicate that the F protein is primarily associated with the endoplasmic reticulum. This subcellular localization is similar to those of HCV core and NS5A proteins, raising the possibility that the F protein may participate in HCV morphogenesis or replication.

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