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J Gen Virol. 2006 Sep;87(Pt 9):2583-93.

Entry of hepatitis C virus pseudotypes into primary human hepatocytes by clathrin-dependent endocytosis.

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INSERM U544, EA 3770, Institut de Virologie, Université Louis Pasteur, 3 rue Koeberlé, F-67000 Strasbourg, France.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic hepatitis worldwide. Studies of the early steps of HCV infection have been hampered by the lack of convenient in vitro or in vivo models. Although several cell-surface molecules that mediate the binding of HCV envelope proteins to target cells have been identified, mechanisms of viral entry into human hepatocytes are still poorly understood. Vesicular stomatitis virus/HCV pseudotyped viruses expressing the HCV envelope glycoproteins on the viral envelope were generated and it was found that their entry into human hepatocytes required co-expression of E1 and E2 on the pseudotype surface. Neutralization of pseudotype infection by anti-HCV antibodies suggested that cellular entry was mediated by HCV envelope glycoproteins and by previously characterized cell-surface molecules, including CD81. An entry assay based on the release of a fluorochrome from labelled HCV pseudotypes provided evidence for a pH-dependent fusion of the pseudotype envelope with a cellular compartment. By using a panel of endocytosis inhibitors, it is postulated that penetration of HCV into primary cultures of hepatocytes takes place by clathrin-mediated endocytosis.

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