Hepatitis C virus infection causes chronic liver diseases and is a global public health problem.
Detailed analyses of Hepatitis C virus have been hampered by the lack of viral culture systems.
Subgenomic replicons of the JFH1 genotype 2a strain cloned from an individual with fulminant hepatitis replicate efficiently in cell culture.
| Virus infectivity can be neutralized by immunoglobulins from infected individuals|
Dr Takaji Wakita and colleagues show that the JFH1 genome replicates efficiently.
The researchers also found that the JFH1 genome supports secretion of viral particles after transfection into a human hepatoma cell line, the Huh7.
The research team report that particles have a density of about 1.15 to 1.17 g per ml and a spherical morphology with an average diameter of about 55 nm.
Secreted virus is infectious for Huh7 cells and infectivity can be neutralized by CD81-specific antibodies and by immunoglobulins from infected individuals.
Dr Wakita's team concludes, “This system provides a powerful tool for studying the viral life cycle and developing antiviral strategies.”