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J Gen Virol. 2005 Oct;86(Pt 10):2793-8.

Contribution of the charged residues of hepatitis C virus glycoprotein E2 transmembrane domain to the functions of the E1E2 heterodimer.

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CNRS-UPR2511, Unité Hépatite C, Institut de Biologie de Lille, 1 rue Calmette, BP 447, 59021 Lille cedex, France.


The envelope glycoproteins of Hepatitis C virus (HCV), E1 and E2, form a heterodimer that is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The transmembrane (TM) domains play a major role in E1E2 heterodimerization and in ER retention. Two fully conserved charged residues in the middle of the TM domain of E2 (Asp and Arg) are crucial for these functions. Replacement of the Asp residue by a Leu impaired E1E2 heterodimerization, whereas the Arg-to-Leu mutation had a milder effect. Both Asp and Arg residues were shown to contribute to the ER retention function of E2. In addition, the entry function of HCV envelope glycoproteins was affected by these mutations. Together, these data indicate that the charged residues present in the TM domain of E2 play a major role in the biogenesis and the entry function of the E1E2 heterodimer. However, the Asp and Arg residues do not contribute equally to these functions.

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