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Keywords:

  • helicase;
  • hepatitis C virus;
  • polymerase;
  • protease;
  • replicon

Abstract: Exciting advances have recently been made in the understanding of the molecular virology of hepatitis C. Powerful model systems have been developed that allow to systematically dissect important steps of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle. These include new systems for functional analyses of the HCV glycoproteins, providing insights into possible HCV receptors and cell entry mechanisms, and the replicon system, which has revolutionized investigation of HCV RNA replication and has facilitated drug discovery efforts. The largest gaps remain in the understanding of the virion structure and the processes that lead to the assembly, packaging and release of virions. However, given the pace of current HCV research, progress in these directions may be expected in the near future. Here, we provide a primer on the molecular virology of hepatitis C, with particular reference to novel antiviral targets and therapeutic strategies.