Hepatitis C virus proteins: from structure to function

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2013:369:113-42. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-27340-7_5.


Great progress has been made over the past years in elucidating the structure and function of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) proteins, most of which are now actively being pursued as antiviral targets. The structural proteins, which form the viral particle, include the core protein and the envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2. The nonstructural proteins include the p7 viroporin, the NS2 protease, the NS3-4A complex harboring protease and NTPase/RNA helicase activities, the NS4B and NS5A proteins, and the NS5B RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. NS4B is a master organizer of replication complex formation while NS5A is a zinc-containing phosphoprotein involved in the regulation of HCV RNA replication versus particle production. Core to NS2 make up the assembly module while NS3 to NS5B represent the replication module (replicase). However, HCV proteins exert multiple functions during the viral life cycle, and these may be governed by different structural conformations and/or interactions with viral and/or cellular partners. Remarkably, each viral protein is anchored to intracellular membranes via specific determinants that are essential to protein function in the cell. This review summarizes current knowledge of the structure and function of the HCV proteins and highlights recent advances in the field.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hepacivirus / chemistry
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / metabolism*
  • Hepatitis C / virology*
  • Humans
  • Viral Proteins / chemistry*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism*


  • Viral Proteins