Subcellular localization and function of an epitope-tagged p7 viroporin in hepatitis C virus-producing cells.
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AbstractThe hepatitis C virus (HCV) viroporin p7 is crucial for production of infectious viral progeny. However, its role in the viral replication cycle remains incompletely understood, in part due to the poor availability of p7-specific antibodies. To circumvent this obstacle, we inserted two consecutive hemagglutinin (HA) epitope tags at its N terminus. HA-tagged p7 reduced peak virus titers ca. 10-fold and decreased kinetics of virus production compared to the wild-type virus. However, HA-tagged p7 rescued virus production of a mutant virus lacking p7, thus providing formal proof that the tag does not disrupt p7 function. In HCV-producing cells, p7 displayed a reticular staining pattern which colocalized with the HCV envelope glycoprotein 2 (E2) but also partially with viral nonstructural proteins 2, 3, and 5A. Using coimmunoprecipitation, we confirmed a specific interaction between p7 and NS2, whereas we did not detect a stable interaction with core, E2, or NS5A. Moreover, we did not observe p7 incorporation into affinity-purified virus particles. Consistently, there was no evidence supporting a role of p7 in viral entry, as an anti-HA antibody was not able to neutralize Jc1 virus produced from an HA-p7-tagged genome. Collectively, these findings highlight a stable interaction between p7 and NS2 which is likely crucial for production of infectious HCV particles. Use of this functional epitope-tagged p7 variant should facilitate the analysis of the final steps of the HCV replication cycle.
CitationSubcellular localization and function of an epitope-tagged p7 viroporin in hepatitis C virus-producing cells. 2013, 87 (3):1664-78 J. Virol.
AffiliationInstitute of Experimental Virology, Twincore, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Hannover, Germany.
JournalJournal of virology
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