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J Viral Hepat. 2008 Mar;15(3):157-64. Epub 2007 Dec 17.

Hepatitis C virus core protein, lipid droplets and steatosis.

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INSERM ERI 19, Université François Rabelais & CHRU de Tours, Tours, France.


Lipid droplets are intracellular organelles involved not only in lipid storage but also in cell signalling and the regulation of intracellular vesicular trafficking. Recent basic studies have suggested that interactions between hepatitis C virus (HCV) core protein and lipid droplets are required for the HCV infection cycle. In infected cells, the HCV core protein is associated with the surface of lipid droplets and the endoplasmic reticulum membranes closely surrounding these droplets, and its self-assembly drives virion budding. This interaction also seems to be directly linked to a virus-induced steatosis, which involves the deposition of triglycerides in the liver and contributes to the progression of fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Many clinical studies have reported that virus-induced steatosis is significantly more severe with HCV genotype 3 than with other genotypes, and this phenomenon has been modelled in recent basic studies based on the production of HCV core proteins of various genotypes in vitro. The association of HCV core protein with lipid droplets seems to play a central role in HCV pathogenesis and morphogenesis, suggesting that virus-induced steatosis may be essential for the viral life cycle.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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