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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Apr 3;104(14):5848-53. Epub 2007 Mar 21.

Hepatitis C virus production by human hepatocytes dependent on assembly and secretion of very low-density lipoproteins.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390-9046, USA.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and triglyceride-rich very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs) both are secreted uniquely by hepatocytes and circulate in blood in a complex. Here, we isolated from human hepatoma cells the membrane vesicles in which HCV replicates. These vesicles, which contain the HCV replication complex, are highly enriched in proteins required for VLDL assembly, including apolipoprotein B (apoB), apoE, and microsomal triglyceride transfer protein. In hepatoma cells that constitutively produce infectious HCV, HCV production is reduced by two agents that block VLDL assembly: an inhibitor of microsomal triglyceride transfer protein and siRNA directed against apoB. These results provide a possible explanation for the restriction of HCV production to the liver and suggest new cellular targets for treatment of HCV infection.

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