Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 17678898
FEBS Lett. 2007 Aug;581(21):4049-57
Although the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an enveloped virus, naked nucleocapsids have been reported in the serum of infected patients, and most recently novel HCV subgenomes with deletions of the envelope proteins have been identified. However the significance of these findings remains unclear. In this study, we used the baculovirus expression system to generate recombinant HCV capsid-like particles, and investigated their possible interactions with cells. We show that expression of HCV core in insect cells can sufficiently direct the formation of capsid-like particles in the absence of the HCV envelope glycoproteins and of the 5′ untranslated region. By confocal microscopy analysis, we provide evidence that the naked capsid-like particles could be uptaken by human hepatoma cells. Moreover, our findings suggest that they have the potential to produce cell-signaling effects.