, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 411-423

Molecular biology of hepatitis C virus

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Infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV), which is distributed worldwide, often becomes persistent, causing chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. For many years, the characterization of the HCV genome and its products has been done by heterologous expression systems because of the lack of a productive cell culture system. The development of the HCV replicon system is a highlight of HCV research and has allowed examination of the viral RNA replication in cell culture. Recently, a robust system for production of recombinant infectious HCV has been established, and classical virological techniques are now able to be applied to HCV. This development of reverse genetics-based experimental tools in HCV research can bring a greater understanding of the viral life cycle and pathogenesis of HCV-induced diseases. This review summarizes the current knowledge of cell culture systems for HCV research and recent advances in the investigation of the molecular virology of HCV.