A critical role of Cyclophilins, mostly Cyclophilin A (CyPA), in the replication of HCV is supported by a growing body of in vitro
and in vivo
evidence. CyPA probably interacts directly with nonstructural protein 5A to exert its effect, through its peptidyl-prolyl isomerase activity, on maintaining the proper structure and function of the HCV replicase. The major proline substrates are located in domain II of NS5A, centered around a “DY” dipeptide motif that regulates CyPA dependence and CsA resistance. Importantly, Cyclosporine A derivatives that lack immunosuppressive function efficiently block the CyPA-NS5A interaction and inhibit HCV in cell culture, an animal model, and human trials. Given the high genetic barrier to development of resistance and the distinctness of their mechanism from that of either the current standard of care or any specifically targeted antiviral therapy for HCV (STAT-C
), CyP inhibitors hold promise as a novel class of anti-HCV therapy.