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J Gastroenterol. 2013 Feb;48(2):147-58. doi: 10.1007/s00535-012-0682-0. Epub 2012 Oct 27.

Culture systems for hepatitis E virus.

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Division of Virology, Department of Infection and Immunity, Jichi Medical University School of Medicine, 3311-1 Yakushiji, Shimotsuke, Tochigi, 329-0498, Japan.


The lack of an efficient cell culture system for hepatitis E virus (HEV) has greatly hampered detailed analyses of this virus. The first efficient cell culture systems for HEV that were developed were capable of secreting infectious HEV progenies in high titers into culture media, using PLC/PRF/5 cells derived from human hepatocellular carcinoma and A549 cells derived from human lung cancer as host cells. The success achieved with the original genotype 3 JE03-1760F strain has now been extended to various HEV strains in fecal and serum samples obtained from hepatitis E patients and to HEV strains in fecal and serum samples and liver tissues obtained from pigs and wild boar across species barriers. In addition, infectious HEV cDNA clones of the wild-type JE03-1760F strain and its variants have been engineered. Cell culture-generated HEV particles and those in circulating blood were found to be associated with lipids and open reading frame 3 (ORF3) protein, thereby likely contributing to the assembly and release of HEV from infected cells both in vivo and in vitro. The ORF3 protein interacts with the tumor susceptibility gene 101, a critical cellular protein required for the budding of enveloped viruses, through the Pro, Ser, Ala, and Pro (PSAP) motif in infected cells; ORF3 is co-localized with multivesicular bodies (MVBs) in the cytoplasm of infected cells, thus suggesting that HEV requires the MVB pathway for the egress of virus particles. This article reviews the development of efficient cell culture systems for a wide variety of infectious HEV strains obtained from humans, pigs, and wild boar, and also provides details of a new model for virion egress.

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