Overview of life cycle

HCV is a positive, single-stranded, RNA virus. Its 9.6-kb genome encodes a single ~3000 amino acid polyprotein that is proteolytically processed by a combination of cellular and viral proteinases into structural (components of the mature virus) and nonstructural (elements proposed to help replicate new virions) proteins (Fig. 1) [6-8]. Flanking this long protein-encoding sequence are conserved nontranslated regions at the 5' and 3' ends of the RNA genome. These contain highly structured elements that represent important cis-acting signals for initiating replication and translation of the viral genome.

The structural proteins include the core and envelope proteins. The core protein is thought to serve as a nucleocapsid protein. It also seems to interact with several host cell signaling pathways and has been implicated in stea-tosis. The core protein and the viral RNA genome are encapsulated in

A version of this article originally appeared in the 9:3 issue of Clinics in Liver Disease. E-mail address: [email protected]

0891-5520/06/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.idc.2006.01.001 id.theclinics.com

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