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Virology. 2011 Jan 20;409(2):148-55. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2010.10.034. Epub 2010 Nov 23.

Hepatitis C virus expressing flag-tagged envelope protein 2 has unaltered infectivity and density, is specifically neutralized by flag antibodies and can be purified by affinity chromatography.

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Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), Department of Infectious Diseases and Clinical Research Centre, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) purification by ultracentrifugation is difficult because of the low and heterogeneous density of native and cultured viruses. It was recently shown that inserting flag tag into envelope protein 2 (E2) of HCV permitted virus purification by affinity chromatography. However, flag-tagged viruses had drastically altered properties, and purification yield was low. In this study, we found that insertion of flag tag at the N-terminus of E2 in HCV recombinant J6/JFH1 did not affect viability in Huh7.5 cells, and that flag-tagged virus had physiochemical properties similar to the original virus. Flag-tagged virus was susceptible to flag-specific antibody neutralization, and infected cells could be immuno-stained by anti-flag antibodies. Using affinity chromatography with anti-flag resin we repeatedly obtained ~30% recovery of infectious particles. The full viability and unaltered physiochemical properties of flag-tagged HCV is an important improvement for utilizing these viruses for imaging, virion composition analysis and possibly vaccine development.

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