Early steps of the hepatitis C virus life cycle

Cell Microbiol. 2008 Apr;10(4):821-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2007.01107.x. Epub 2007 Dec 13.


To replicate its genome, a virus needs to cross the plasma membrane of a host cell and get access to cytosolic and/or nuclear components. For an enveloped virus, this involves binding to the plasma membrane, followed by migration of the virion to a microdomain or an endosomal vesicle where fusion between the virion envelope and a host cell membrane occurs. Increasing evidences indicate that virus entry is a tightly regulated process. Although we are still far from understanding the details of hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry, recent data show that this virus enters into target cells in a slow and complex multistep process involving the presence of several entry factors. Initial attachment of the virion may involve glycosaminoglycans and the low-density lipoprotein receptor, and it is followed by the sequential interaction with the scavenger receptor class B type I, the tetraspanin CD81 and tight junction protein Claudin-1, -6 or -9. Furthermore, the identification of EWI-2wint as a new partner of CD81 which blocks E2-CD81 interaction provides additional evidence of the complexity of the HCV entry process. The current knowledge accumulated on HCV entry is summarized in this review.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hepacivirus / growth & development*
  • Hepacivirus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Models, Biological
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Attachment*
  • Virus Replication / physiology*


  • Viral Proteins