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Antiviral Res. 2007 Jan;73(1):40-9. Epub 2006 Jul 28.

Replication efficiency of chimeric replicon containing NS5A-5B genes derived from HCV-infected patient sera.

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Global Pharmaceutical Research and Development, Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL 60064, USA.


A transient subgenomic replicon-based shuttle vector system has been developed to investigate how genetic heterogeneity affects HCV replication efficiency. Individual NS5A or NS5B genes or cassettes containing both NS5A and NS5B genes were amplified from "quasispecies" pools derived from HCV genotype 1a or 1b patient sera using RT-PCR and cloned into their respective shuttle vectors. All shuttle vectors containing NS5A or NS5A-5B genes were constructed with the S2204I "adaptive" mutation because replicons lacking the S2204I mutation replicated poorly. Gene sequences of the quasispecies pools within either genotype 1a or 1b patient samples ranged from 94 to 95% in identity. The replication capacity of 1b shuttle vectors containing patient-derived NS5A or NS5B genes averaged 67 and 75%, respectively, relative to the laboratory-optimized 1b replicon. In contrast, the replication efficiencies of both 1a and 1b shuttle vectors containing patient-derived NS5A-5B gene cassettes averaged around 2% relative to the respective laboratory-optimized replicon. All patient-derived replicons were tested in a transient assay for their sensitivity to either interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) or to the polymerase inhibitor A-782759. Despite the differences in replication efficiency, IC(50) values measured for most of the patient-derived replicons were equivalent to the respective values measured in the control laboratory strain replicons. These results demonstrate that patient sequence heterogeneity affects replication efficiency whenever patient-derived NS5A-5B genes are inserted into the laboratory-optimized replicon. The findings also demonstrate the utility of the shuttle vector system to test patient-derived gene sequences for sensitivity to IFN-alpha and to small molecule inhibitors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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