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Viruses 2015, 7(8), 4461-4481; doi:10.3390/v7082826

Structural and Functional Properties of the Hepatitis C Virus p7 Viroporin

1
Department of Infectious Diseases, Molecular Virology, University of Heidelberg, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
2
Division of Virus-Associated Carcinogenesis, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Luis Carrasco and José Luis Nieva
Received: 17 June 2015 / Revised: 28 July 2015 / Accepted: 30 July 2015 / Published: 6 August 2015
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Viroporins)
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Abstract

The high prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in the human population has triggered intensive research efforts that have led to the development of curative antiviral therapy. Moreover, HCV has become a role model to study fundamental principles that govern the replication cycle of a positive strand RNA virus. In fact, for most HCV proteins high-resolution X-ray and NMR (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance)-based structures have been established and profound insights into their biochemical and biological properties have been gained. One example is p7, a small hydrophobic protein that is dispensable for RNA replication, but crucial for the production and release of infectious HCV particles from infected cells. Owing to its ability to insert into membranes and assemble into homo-oligomeric complexes that function as minimalistic ion channels, HCV p7 is a member of the viroporin family. This review compiles the most recent findings related to the structure and dual pore/ion channel activity of p7 of different HCV genotypes. The alternative conformations and topologies proposed for HCV p7 in its monomeric and oligomeric state are described and discussed in detail. We also summarize the different roles p7 might play in the HCV replication cycle and highlight both the ion channel/pore-like function and the additional roles of p7 unrelated to its channel activity. Finally, we discuss possibilities to utilize viroporin inhibitors for antagonizing p7 ion channel/pore-like activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: hepatitis C virus; p7 protein; viroporins; small membrane protein; ion channel activity; oligomeric structure; pore-like function; virus assembly and release; antiviral target hepatitis C virus; p7 protein; viroporins; small membrane protein; ion channel activity; oligomeric structure; pore-like function; virus assembly and release; antiviral target
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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. (CC BY 4.0).

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Madan, V.; Bartenschlager, R. Structural and Functional Properties of the Hepatitis C Virus p7 Viroporin. Viruses 2015, 7, 4461-4481.

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