Hepatitis C virus: How viral proteins interact in human cells

May 8, 2014, Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres

Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München have for the first time decrypted the interaction network of hepatitis C virus proteins in living human cells. Their findings will contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms behind inflammatory liver disease caused by hepatitis C viruses and open up new avenues for therapy development. The results are published in the specialist journal Molecular & Cellular Proteomics.

Viruses use human cells in order to multiply and spread. This process involves interactions with cellular host factors as well as virus-virus interactions. For example interactions among are essential for the assembly of newly produced infectious virions.

Interaction network explains viral mechanisms and opens up possibilities for new treatments

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) forms a precursor protein, which is processed into ten viral proteins. Scientists at the Institute of Virology at the Helmholtz Zentrum have now discovered how these proteins interact with one another and thus regulate important stages in the viral replication cycle. Shedding light on this interaction network creates a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying viral replication and pathogenesis and paves the way for new antiviral therapies.

As part of their investigations, the team led by Professor Michael Schindler, head of the working group at the Institute of Virology, applied the FACS-FRET* technique, which Schindler had developed at the Heinrich Pette Institute in Hamburg. With the aid of FACS-FRET, protein interactions in living cells can be characterized. Furthermore, it allows to unravel the relevance of certain interactions for replication. This method also enables screening for antiviral substances.

Finding new antiviral substances with few adverse effects

"Our results show how viral proteins interact within . This provides a basis for identifying new antiviral substances. We propose by specifically targeting virus-virus interactions to find drugs with low cellular toxicity. This hypothesis was already confirmed in first screenings approaches," Schindler explains. "Since our method can be applied in an interdisciplinary manner, we are also aiming to elucidate the networks of other human pathogenic viruses. For instance hepatitis B virus (HBV) or the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."

Infections with HCV lead to inflammation of the liver, and in up to 80 percent of cases the inflammation becomes chronic. Hepatitis C is a risk factor for the development of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Explore further: Degradation of viral DNA in the cell nucleus opens new Hepatitis B treatment possibilities

More information: Hagen, N. et al. (2014), The intra viral protein interaction network of hepatitis C virus. Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, DOI: 10.1074/mcp.M113.036301

Related Stories

Degradation of viral DNA in the cell nucleus opens new Hepatitis B treatment possibilities

February 21, 2014
Scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technische Universität München have discovered how the viral DNA of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) can be degraded in the cell nucleus of liver cells, consequently allowing ...

Researchers discover possible new target to attack flu virus

April 10, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have discovered that a protein produced by the influenza A virus helps it outwit one of our body's natural defense mechanisms. That makes the protein a potentially ...

New Chinese herbal medicine has significant potential in treating hepatitis C

April 12, 2014
Data from a late-breaking abstract presented at the International Liver Congress 2014 identifies a new compound, SBEL1, that has the ability to inhibit hepatitis C virus (HCV) activity in cells at several points in the virus' ...

New focus to combat rising liver disease

July 26, 2013
University of Adelaide researchers are investigating how the liver responds to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and why some people can control the virus while others can't. The aim is to find better therapies to combat hepatitis ...

Recommended for you

A new theory on reducing cardiovascular disease risk in binge drinkers

January 23, 2018
A new study shows that binge drinkers have increased levels of a biomarker molecule—microRNA-21—that may contribute to poor vascular function.

Flu infection study increases understanding of natural immunity

January 23, 2018
People with higher levels of antibodies against the stem portion of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein have less viral shedding when they get the flu, but do not have fewer or less severe signs of illness, according ...

New long-acting approach for malaria therapy developed

January 22, 2018
A new study, published in Nature Communications, conducted by the University of Liverpool and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine highlights a new 'long acting' medicine for the prevention of malaria.

Virus shown to be likely cause of mystery polio-like illness

January 22, 2018
A major review by UNSW researchers has identified strong evidence that a virus called Enterovirus D68 is the cause of a mystery polio-like illness that has paralysed children in the US, Canada and Europe.

Creation of synthetic horsepox virus could lead to more effective smallpox vaccine

January 19, 2018
UAlberta researchers created a new synthetic virus that could lead to the development of a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The discovery demonstrates how techniques based on the use of synthetic DNA can be used to ...

Study ends debate over role of steroids in treating septic shock

January 19, 2018
The results from the largest ever study of septic shock could improve treatment for critically ill patients and save health systems worldwide hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.