Structural biology of hepatitis C virus



Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes acute and chronic liver disease in humans, including chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Studies of this virus have been hampered by the lack of a productive cell culture system; most information thus has been obtained from analysis of the HCV genome, heterologous expression systems, in vitro and in vivo models, and structural analyses. Structural analyses of HCV components provide an essential framework for understanding of the molecular mechanisms of HCV polyprotein processing, RNA replication, and virion assembly and may contribute to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of hepatitis C. Moreover, these analyses should allow the identification of novel targets for antiviral intervention and development of new strategies to prevent and combat viral hepatitis. This article reviews the current knowledge of HCV structural biology. (HEPATOLOGY 2004;39:5–19.)