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Uirusu. 2008 Dec;58(2):199-205.

[Involvement of nonstructural protein 5A and lipids on production of hepatitis C virus particles].

[Article in Japanese]

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National Institute of Infectious Diseases, 1-23-1 Toyama, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo.


A robust system for production of recombinant infectious hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been established in 2005 and classical virological techniques are now able to be applied to the HCV research, especially regarding molecular mechanisms on virion assembly and maturation. We recently demonstrated that the C-terminal serine cluster of NS5A is a determinant of NS5A interaction with Core and the subcellular localization of NSSA. Mutation of this cluster blocks the NS5A-Core interaction, resulting in perturbation of association between Core and HCV RNA. It is thus tempting to consider that NS5A plays a key role in transporting the viral genome RNA synthesized by the replication complex to the surface of lipid droplets (LDs) or LD-associated membranes, where Core localizes, leading to facilitation of nucleocapsid formation. We also demonstrated an important role of cholesterol and sphingolipid in HCV infection and virion maturation. Specifically, mature HCV particles are rich in cholesterol. Depletion of cholesterol from HCV or hydrolysis of virion-associated sphingomyelin results in a loss of infectivity, and the addition of exogenous cholesterol restores infectivity. In addition, cholesterol and sphingolipid on the HCV membrane play a key role in virus internalization. Finally, inhibitors of the sphingolipid biosynthetic pathway efficiently block virion production.

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