Unité hépatite C, CNRS-FRE2369, Institut de biologie et Institut Pasteur, 1, rue Calmette, BP 447, 59021 Lille Cedex.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the causal agent of hepatitis C. HCV infects approximately 3 % of the human population worlwide. This infection is chronic in approximately 70 % of infected people and it can lead to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma after 10-20 years. Due to the absence of a tissue culture system that allows an efficient replication of HCV and the low level of viral particles in patient sera, a detailed characterization of HCV envelope has not been described yet. However, by using heterologous expression systems, a large amount of data have been obtained on HCV envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2. This paper presents a review on recent developments on the study of biogenesis, folding, assembly and subcellular localization of HCV envelope glycoproteins.