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Etude biochimique et fonctionnelle de la glycoprotéine E1 du virus de l'Hépatite C (HCV)

Abstract : Being part of the viral particle, HCV envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2 play an essential role in virion morphogenesis as well as in HCV entry into liver cells. These glycoproteins form a non-covalent heterodimer, and until recently, research on HCV envelope glycoproteins has been mainly focused on E2. Indeed, this glycoprotein is the receptor-binding protein, it is also the major target of neutralizing antibodies and it was postulated to be the fusion protein. However, the recent publications of the structure of E2 do not show the presence of a fusion peptide and its structure does not fit with what one would expect for a fusion protein, suggesting that E1 alone or in association with E2 might be responsible for the fusion step. Concerning E1, only the crystal structure of the two-fifth N-terminal region, comprising amino acids 192 to 270, has been reported. This partial structure reveals a complex network of covalently linked, intertwined homodimers. The overall fold of the N-terminal E1 monomer consists of a beta-hairpin (β1 and β2) followed by a segment composed of a 16 amino-acid long alpha-helix (α1) flanking a three-strand antiparallel beta-sheet (β3, β4 and β5). In addition to the characterization of secondary structures within E1, a region located in the middle of the polypeptide (approximately between aa 274 and 292) has been suggested to play an active role during the fusion process and might potentially act as a fusion peptide. We took advantage of these recently published data to further investigate the functional role of HCV glycoprotein E1 by using a site-directed mutagenesis approach targeting conserved amino acids in the N-terminal region as well as in the region postulated to contain the fusion peptide in the context of an infectious clone. As expected, our results indicate that these mutations have no effect on virus replication. However, twenty-one out of twenty-eight mutations led to attenuation or inactivation of infectivity. Interestingly, two attenuated mutants, T213A and I262A, were less dependent on tight junction protein claudin-1, a co-receptor for HCV. Instead, these mutant viruses relied on another claudin (claudin-6) for cellular entry, indicating a shift in receptor dependence. In contrast, two other mutants, L286 and E303, were more dependent on claudin-1 for cellular entry into hepatoma cells cells. We also identified an interesting mutation downstream of the putative fusion peptide, G311A, which leads to the release of non-infectious particles having a defect in cellular entry. Finally, an unexpected phenotype was also observed for D263A mutant, which was no longer infectious but led to the secretion of viral particles devoid of genomic RNA. Further characterization of the D263A mutant revealed a change in subcellular co-localization between HCV RNA and E1, highlighting for the first time a crosstalk between HCV glycoprotein E1 and the genomic RNA during HCV morphogenesis.In conclusion, our observations allowed for the identification of specific regions in the E1 glycoprotein that play a role in virion assembly and entry, highlighting the major role played by this protein at different steps of the HCV infectious cycle.
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Juliano Haddad. Etude biochimique et fonctionnelle de la glycoprotéine E1 du virus de l'Hépatite C (HCV). Médecine humaine et pathologie. Université du Droit et de la Santé - Lille II; Université libanaise, 2017. Français. ⟨NNT : 2017LIL2S029⟩. ⟨tel-02444148⟩

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