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Human T Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 (HTLV-1): Molecular Biology and Oncogenesis
Viruses 2010, 2(9), 2078-2095; doi:10.3390/v2092078
Review

Hepatitis C Virus P7—A Viroporin Crucial for Virus Assembly and an Emerging Target for Antiviral Therapy

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Received: 22 July 2010 / Revised: 2 September 2010 / Accepted: 6 September 2010 / Published: 27 September 2010
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Abstract

The hepatitis C virus (HCV), a hepatotropic plus-strand RNA virus of the family Flaviviridae, encodes a set of 10 viral proteins. These viral factors act in concert with host proteins to mediate virus entry, and to coordinate RNA replication and virus production. Recent evidence has highlighted the complexity of HCV assembly, which not only involves viral structural proteins but also relies on host factors important for lipoprotein synthesis, and a number of viral assembly co-factors. The latter include the integral membrane protein p7, which oligomerizes and forms cation-selective pores. Based on these properties, p7 was included into the family of viroporins comprising viral proteins from multiple virus families which share the ability to manipulate membrane permeability for ions and to facilitate virus production. Although the precise mechanism as to how p7 and its ion channel function contributes to virus production is still elusive, recent structural and functional studies have revealed a number of intriguing new facets that should guide future efforts to dissect the role and function of p7 in the viral replication cycle. Moreover, a number of small molecules that inhibit production of HCV particles, presumably via interference with p7 function, have been reported. These compounds should not only be instrumental in increasing our understanding of p7 function, but may, in the future, merit further clinical development to ultimately optimize HCV-specific antiviral treatments.
Keywords: HCV; p7; assembly and release; ion channel; viroporins; antiviral therapy HCV; p7; assembly and release; ion channel; viroporins; antiviral therapy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Steinmann, E.; Pietschmann, T. Hepatitis C Virus P7—A Viroporin Crucial for Virus Assembly and an Emerging Target for Antiviral Therapy. Viruses 2010, 2, 2078-2095.

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