Key Protein Structure of Hepatitis C Virus Mapped by Scientists


eMediNexus    02 January 2023

In a study conducted by researchers from Scripps Research and the University of Amsterdam, the key sites of the vulnerability of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) were mapped at high resolution and can now be used to develop vaccines. The researchers revealed that, till now, no effective vaccine against HCV had been developed due to the inability to study HCVs envelope protein complex, which is made of two viral proteins called E1 and E2. They discovered that the E1 and E2 complex is very flimsy and constantly changes shape, making imaging at high resolution extremely difficult.


The researchers observed that combining three broadly neutralizing anti-HCV antibodies in the study can stabilize the E1 and E2 complex. After stabilizing the complex in natural conformation, they imaged the antibody-stabilized protein complex using low-temperature electron microscopy to generate an E1 and E2 structural map at near-atomic scale resolution.


The imaging data showed several thickets of sugar-related "glycan" molecules atop the E1 and E2 complexes. The researchers explained that the viruses use glycans to shield themselves from the immune system of an infected host. However, in the case of the HCV virus, they found that glycans had an additional role in holding the flimsy E1 and E2 complexes together. 


(Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/10/221020140639.htm )

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