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J Virol. 2010 Nov;84(21):11532-41. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01021-10. Epub 2010 Aug 18.

The C-terminal alpha-helix domain of apolipoprotein E is required for interaction with nonstructural protein 5A and assembly of hepatitis C virus.

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Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, KY 40536, USA.


We have recently demonstrated that human apolipoprotein E (apoE) is required for the infectivity and assembly of hepatitis C virus (HCV) (K. S. Chang, J. Jiang, Z. Cai, and G. Luo, J. Virol. 81:13783-13793, 2007; J. Jiang and G. Luo, J. Virol. 83:12680-12691, 2009). In the present study, we have determined the molecular basis underlying the importance of apoE in HCV assembly. Results derived from mammalian two-hybrid studies demonstrate a specific interaction between apoE and HCV nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A). The C-terminal third of apoE per se is sufficient for interaction with NS5A. Progressive deletion mutagenesis analysis identified that the C-terminal α-helix domain of apoE is important for NS5A binding. The N-terminal receptor-binding domain and the C-terminal 20 amino acids of apoE are dispensable for the apoE-NS5A interaction. The NS5A-binding domain of apoE was mapped to the middle of the C-terminal α-helix domain between amino acids 205 and 280. Likewise, deletion mutations disrupting the apoE-NS5A interaction resulted in blockade of HCV production. These findings demonstrate that the specific apoE-NS5A interaction is required for assembly of infectious HCV. Additionally, we have determined that using different major isoforms of apoE (E2, E3, and E4) made no significant difference in the apoE-NS5A interaction. Likewise, these three major isoforms of apoE are equally compatible with infectivity and assembly of infectious HCV, suggesting that apoE isoforms do not differentially modulate the infectivity and/or assembly of HCV in cell culture.

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