Previously, we demonstrated that the efficiency of hepatitis C virus (HCV) E2-p7 processing regulates p7-dependent NS2 localization to putative virus assembly sites near lipid droplets (LD). In this study, we have employed subcellular fractionations and membrane flotation assays to demonstrate that NS2 associates with detergent-resistant membranes (DRM) in a p7-dependent manner. However, p7 likely plays an indirect role in this process, since only the background level of p7 was detectable in the DRM fractions. Our data also suggest that the p7-NS2 precursor is not involved in NS2 recruitment to the DRM, despite its apparent targeting to this location. Deletion of NS2 specifically inhibited E2 localization to the DRM, indicating that NS2 regulates this process. Treatment of cells with methyl-β-cyclodextrin (MβCD) significantly reduced the DRM association of Core, NS2, and E2 and reduced infectious HCV production. Since disruption of the DRM localization of NS2 and E2, either due to p7 and NS2 defects, respectively, or byMβCD treatment, inhibited infectious HCV production, these proteins' associations with the DRM likely play an important role during HCV assembly. Interestingly, we detected the HCV replication-dependent accumulation of ApoE in the DRM fractions. Taking into consideration the facts that ApoE was shown to be a major determinant for infectious HCV particle production at the postenvelopment step and that the HCV Core protein strongly associates with the DRM, recruitment of E2 and ApoE to the DRM may allow the efficient coordination of Core particle envelopment and postenvelopment events at the DRM to generate infectious HCV production.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science