Chronic Hepatitis C virus infections affect about 170 million people worldwide and constitute a significant risk factor for fibrosis, steatosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCV infections are a major indicator for liver transplantation. Here, we propose to characterize the role of lipids in virion morphogenesis mostly focusing on maturation and secretion from infected hepatocytes. In the previous grant we had identified and characterized the role of several lipids and lipid interacting proteins in affecting HCV secretion. Here, we propose to continue these studies and focus on the role of phosphatidylinosito-4 phosphate (PI4P)-interacting proteins including ceramide transfer protein (CERT), Nir-2, and Arfaptin in affecting the secretory transport of HCV virions across the Golgi network. HCV maturation/secretions through the Golgi network is believed to occur in association with very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) assembly and secretion. VLDL transport occurs in specialized VLDL transport vesicles (VTVs). We propose to characterize the transport of HCV-associated VTVs across the Golgi network using an established biochemical fractionation procedure for isolating VTVs. Characterization of VTVs in HCV infected cells containing HCV virions components is of fundamental importance to the understating of HCV morphogenesis. We also propose to determine the functional importance of factors that affect VTVs in HCV maturation. These studies will reveal unique insight into the mechanisms of HCV maturation, secretion and egress and will serve as a model for other RNA viruses. The results of this study will open new avenues for therapeutic design of cellular targets affecting the HCV secretory pathway.
Hepatitis C virus (HBV) infects about 3% of the world population and is a major indicator for liver transplantation. There is no vaccine available. HCV alters host lipid metabolic pathways for establishing infectious process. This proposal focuses on the role of lipids in the HCV maturation and secretion from infected hepatocytes.