Hepatitis E is an underestimated threat to public health, caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). HEV is the most common cause of acute viral hepatitis in the world, with no available direct-acting antiviral treatment. According to a recent WHO report, 20 million people become infected with HEV annually, resulting in 44,000 deaths. However, due to the scarcity of efficient in vitro cell culture systems for HEV, our knowledge of the life cycle of HEV is incomplete. Recently, significant progress has been made towards gaining a more comprehensive view of the HEV life cycle, as several in vitro culturing systems have been developed in recent years. Here, we review current knowledge and recent advances with regard to the HEV life cycle, with a particular focus on the assembly and release of viral particles. We also discuss the knowledge gaps in HEV assembly and release. Meanwhile, we highlight experimental platforms that could potentially be utilized to fill these gaps. Lastly, we offer perspectives on the future of research into HEV virology and its interaction with host cells.
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