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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2008 Jul 4;371(3):446-50. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2008.04.110. Epub 2008 Apr 28.

Trans-encapsidation of hepatitis C virus subgenomic replicon RNA with viral structure proteins.

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Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8640, Japan.


A trans-packaging system for hepatitis C virus (HCV) subgenomic replicon RNAs was developed. HCV subgenomic replicon was efficiently encapsidated by the HCV structural proteins that were stably expressed in trans under the control of a mammalian promoter. Infectious HCV-like particles (HCV-LPs), established a single-round infection, were produced and released into culture medium in titers of up to 10(3) focus forming units/ml. Expression of NS2 protein with structural proteins (core, E1, E2, and p7) was shown to be critical for the infectivity of HCV-LPs. Anti-CD81 treatment decreased the number of infected cells, suggesting that HCV-LPs infected cells in a CD81-dependent manner. The packaging cell line should be useful both for the production of single-round infectious HCV-LPs to elucidate the mechanisms of HCV assembly, particle formation and infection to host cells, and for the development of HCV replicon-based vaccines.

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