Role of host cell factors in the Hepatitis C virus replication cycle

EUVIRNA ESR-6

Project description
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections are a major global health problem with 170 million chronically infected individuals worldwide and 3-4 million new infections occurring each year. The hallmark of HCV infection is the high frequency of persistence; in 50-80% of all cases the immune system fails to clear the virus and these people are at high risk to develop serious liver disease including fibrosis, liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Therapy options are limited and a vaccine is not available.

The project aims to identify host cell factors which either promote or restrict HCV replication. Several candidates have been selected by using bioinformatics approaches based on siRNA screens conducted by us (Reiss, Rebhan et al, Cell Host Microbes, 2011) and others, proteomic approaches, interactome studies and microarray analysis. These candidates will now be tested by different molecular and cell biology techniques in the human hepatoma cell line Huh7 for their relevance in the HCV replication cycle. In addition, the role of these factors in determining the host range of HCV will be studied with the aim to render mouse cells permissive for HCV infection and replication.

Host institute
University Hospital of Heidelberg
Department of Molecular Virology
Supervisor: Prof. Ralf Bartenschlager

Position filled