Hepatitis C virus NS2 is a protease stimulated by cofactor domains in NS3

V. Schregel*, S. Jacobi, F. Penin, N. Tautz

*Korrespondierende/r Autor/-in für diese Arbeit
49 Zitate (Scopus)


Chronic infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) affects 130 million people worldwide and is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. After translation of the HCV RNA genome into a polyprotein, 2 viral proteases process its non-structural protein (NS) region. While the essential chymotrypsin-like serine protease NS3-4A mediates all cleavages downstream of NS3, the NS2-3 cysteine protease catalyzes a vital cleavage at the NS2/3 site. Protease activity of NS2-3 has been described to require, besides NS2, the N-terminal 181 aa of NS3. The latter domain corresponds to the NS3 serine protease domain and contains a structural Zn2+-binding site with functional importance for both viral proteases. The catalytic triad of the NS2-3 protease resides in NS2; the role of the NS3 part in proteolysis remained largely undefined. Here we report a basal proteolytic activity for NS2 followed by only 2 amino acids of NS3. Basal activity could be dramatically enhanced by the NS3 Zn 2+-binding domain (NS3 amino acids 81-213) not only in cis but also in trans which, however, required a more extended N-terminal part of NS3 downstream of NS2 in cis. Thus, this study defines for the first time (i) NS2 as a bona fide protease, (ii) NS3 as its regulatory cofactor, and (iii) functional subdomains in NS3 that cooperate in NS2 protease activation. These findings give new mechanistic insights into function and regulation of the NS2 protease and have important implications for the development of anti-HCV therapeutics.

ZeitschriftProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Seiten (von - bis)5342-5347
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 31.03.2009

Strategische Forschungsbereiche und Zentren

  • Forschungsschwerpunkt: Infektion und Entzündung - Zentrum für Infektions- und Entzündungsforschung Lübeck (ZIEL)


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