Hepatitis C virus (HCV) morphogenesis and release are closely linked to lipid metabolism. It has been described recently by our group that TIP47 plays an essential role for the targeting of the NS5A-complexed RNA genome from the replicon complex to the lipid droplet. Moreover, apolipoprotein (apo) E was found to be associated with the viral particle. In light of the fact, that TIP47 harbors an apoE like domain and has a high affinity to lipoproteins, the interaction of TIP47 with the viral particle and the potential relevance for the release of the viral particle were investigated. Coimmunoprecipitations and electron microscopy analysis using immunogold labeling revealed that TIP47 binds to the viral particle and stays associated with the released HCV particle. Silencing of the TIP47 binding partner Rab9 by lentiviral transduction abolishes the viral replication. However, destruction of TIP47-Rab9 interactions by deletion/mutation of the Rab9 binding does not abolish the genome replication domain but prevents the release of HCV particles. The binding of these TIP47 mutants to the viral particle is not affected by destruction of the Rab9 binding domain. Moreover, we found that these TIP47 mutants lacking the binding site for Rab9 misdirect the de novo synthesized viral particles to the autophagosomal/lysosomal compartment where the particles are degraded. From this we conclude that the Rab9-complexed TIP47 plays an essential role for the proper release of hepatitis C viral particles.
Keywords: HCV; Morphogenesis; Replication; TIP47; apoE.
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