Hepatitis C pseudoparticles (HCVpp) are used to evaluate HCV cell entry while screening for neutralizing antibodies induced upon vaccination or while screening for new antiviral drugs. In this work we explore the stable production of HCVpp aiming to reduce the variability associated with transient productions. The performance of stably produced HCVpp was assessed by evaluating the influence of Human Serum and the impact of CD81 cellular expression on the infectivity of HCVpp. After evaluating the performance of stably produced HCVpp we studied the effect of co-expressing p7NS2 openreading frame (ORF) on HCVpp infectivity. Our data clearly shows an enhanced infectivity of HCVppp7NS2. Even though the exact mechanism was not completely elucidated, the enhanced infectivity of HCVppp7NS2 is neither a result of an increase production of virus particles nor a result from increased envelope density. The inhibitory effect of p7 inhibitory molecules such as rimantadine suggests a direct contribution of p7 ion channel for the enhanced infectivity of HCVppp7NS2 which is coherent with a pH-dependent cell entry mechanism. In conclusion, we report the establishment of a stable production system of HCVpp with enhanced infectivity through the overexpression of p7NS2 ORF contributing to improve HCV entry assessment assays widely used in antiviral drug discovery and vaccine development.
- Hepatitis C virus