Low pH-dependent hepatitis C virus membrane fusion depends on E2 integrity, target lipid composition, and density of virus particles.
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AbstractHepatitis C virus (HCV) is an enveloped, positive strand RNA virus of about 9.6 kb. Like all enveloped viruses, the HCV membrane fuses with the host cell membrane during the entry process and thereby releases the genome into the cytoplasm, initiating the viral replication cycle. To investigate the features of HCV membrane fusion, we developed an in vitro fusion assay using cell culture-produced HCV and fluorescently labeled liposomes. With this model we could show that HCV-mediated fusion can be triggered in a receptor-independent but pH-dependent manner and that fusion of the HCV particles with liposomes is dependent on the viral dose and on the lipid composition of the target membranes. In addition CBH-5, an HCV E2-specific antibody, inhibited fusion in a dose-dependent manner. Interestingly, point mutations in E2, known to abrogate HCV glycoprotein-mediated fusion in a cell-based assay, altered or even abolished fusion in the liposome-based assay. When assaying the fusion properties of HCV particles with different buoyant density, we noted higher fusogenicity of particles with lower density. This could be attributable to inherently different properties of low density particles, to association of these particles with factors stimulating fusion, or to co-flotation of factors enhancing fusion activity in trans. Taken together, these data show the important role of lipids of both the viral and target membranes in HCV-mediated fusion, point to a crucial role played by the E2 glycoprotein in the process of HCV fusion, and reveal an important behavior of HCV of different densities with regard to fusion.
CitationLow pH-dependent hepatitis C virus membrane fusion depends on E2 integrity, target lipid composition, and density of virus particles. 2009, 284 (26):17657-67 J. Biol. Chem.
AffiliationDepartment for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a Joint Venture of Hannover Medical School and the Helmholtz-Centre for Infection Research, Hannover 30625, Germany.
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