, Volume 51, Issue 6, pp 665-680

Structure and functions of hepatitis C virus proteins: 15 years after

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Abstract

Since its discovery in 1988, the hepatitis C virus (HCV) has become a hot topic of research by many groups around the world. This globally spread infectious agent is responsible for a large proportion of chronic viral hepatitides. The clue to halting the hepatitis C pandemic may be the detailed understanding of the virus structure, its replication mechanism, and the exact functions of the various proteins. Such understanding could enable the development of new antivirals targeted against hepatitis C virus and possibly an effective vaccine. This review recaps the current knowledge about the HCV genome 15 years after its discovery. The structure and function of particular viral structural (core, E1, E2) and nonstructural (NS2, NS3, NS4, NS5) proteins and noncoding regions known to date are described. With respect to frequent conflicting reports from different research groups, results reproducibly demonstrated by independent investigators are emphasized. Owing to many obstacles and limitations inherent in doing research on this noteworthy virus, the current knowledge is incomplete and the answers to many important questions are to be expected in the future.

This work was supported by theNational Institute of Health (USA) grant no. 5R01 AI056319-04.