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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 2009 Nov;53(11):4825-34. doi: 10.1128/AAC.00601-09. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

Development of NS3/4A protease-based reporter assay suitable for efficiently assessing hepatitis C virus infection.

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, National Tsing-Hua University, Hsin-Chu, Taiwan, Republic of China.


A cell culture system for the production of hepatitis C virus (HCV) whole virions has greatly accelerated studies of the virus life cycle and the discovery of anti-HCV agents. However, the quantification of the HCV titers in a whole-virus infection/replication system currently relies mostly on reverse transcription-PCR or immunofluorescence assay, which would be cumbersome for high-throughput drug screening. To overcome this problem, this study has generated a novel cell line, Huh7.5-EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP, that carries a dual reporter, EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP. The EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP reporter is a viral protease-cleavable fusion protein in which the enhanced green fluorescence protein is linked to secreted alkaline phosphatase (SEAP) in frame via Delta4B5A, a short peptide cleavage substrate for NS3/4A viral protease. This study demonstrates that virus replication/infection in the Huh7.5-EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP cells can be quantitatively indicated by measuring the SEAP activity in cell culture medium. The levels of SEAP released from HCV-infected Huh7.5-EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP cells correlated closely with the amounts of HCV in the inocula. The Huh7.5-EG(Delta4B5A)SEAP cells were also shown to be a suitable host for the discovery of anti-HCV inhibitors by using known compounds that target multiple stages of the HCV life cycle. The Z'-factor of this assay ranged from 0.64 to 0.74 in 96-well plates, indicating that this reporter system is suitable for high-throughput screening of prospective anti-HCV agents.

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