Journal Article

Structure, genomic organization, replication and variability of hepatitis C virus

Bruno Pozzetto, Thomas Bourlet, Florence Grattard and Liliane Bonnevial

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Volume 11, issue supp4, pages 2-5
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online January 1996 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Structure, genomic organization, replication and variability of hepatitis C virus

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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an enveloped, single-stranded RNA virus that has been classified in the Flaviviridae family. The genome of 9400 nucleotides comprises two non-coding regions in 5′ and 3′ flanking a large reading frame which codes for a polyprotein of 3000 amino acids; this polyprotein is further cleaved into structural (C, E1, E2) and nonstructural (NS1, NS2, NS3, NS4, NS5) proteins. The positive RNA acts as a cap-independent messenger; the transcription is mediated by the NS5 RNA polymerase. After the maturation step, the virion is liberated by budding through the cytoplasmic membrane. As for many other RNA viruses, the HCV genome exhibits a high degree of variability, especially in the E2/NS1, E1, NS3 and NS5b regions. Conversely the 5′ non-coding region is highly conserved, at least in part, and can be used for diagnostic purposes by PCR technique. Six genotypes of HCV have already been reported, numbered from 1 to 6 in Simmonds' classification. The same genotype can be divided into subtypes (for instance, genotype 1 comprises three subtypes: 1a, 1b and 1c). Various minor variants of the same strain, called quasispecies, are commonly present in the blood of the same patient. Strains of genotype 1b—which is the most widespread worldwide—are correlated with more severe clinical manifestations, greater viral loads and lower response to interferon treatment. The high variability of the HCV genome contributes greatly to the difficulty of designing potent vaccines.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Nephrology

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