Published online Jan 8, 2016. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v8.i1.9
Peer-review started: May 7, 2015
First decision: September 8, 2015
Revised: October 1, 2015
Accepted: December 17, 2015
Article in press: December 18, 2015
Published online: January 8, 2016
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 3% of the world population or more than 185 million people worldwide. Each year, an estimated 350000-500000 deaths occur worldwide due to HCV-associated diseases including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV is the most common indication for liver transplantation in patients with cirrhosis worldwide. HCV is an enveloped RNA virus classified in the genus Hepacivirus in the Flaviviridae family. The HCV viral life cycle in a cell can be divided into six phases: (1) binding and internalization; (2) cytoplasmic release and uncoating; (3) viral polyprotein translation and processing; (4) RNA genome replication; (5) encapsidation (packaging) and assembly; and (6) virus morphogenesis (maturation) and secretion. Many host factors are involved in the HCV life cycle. Chaperones are an important group of host cytoprotective molecules that coordinate numerous cellular processes including protein folding, multimeric protein assembly, protein trafficking, and protein degradation. All phases of the viral life cycle require chaperone activity and the interaction of viral proteins with chaperones. This review will present our current knowledge and understanding of the role of chaperones in the HCV life cycle. Analysis of chaperones in HCV infection will provide further insights into viral/host interactions and potential therapeutic targets for both HCV and other viruses.
Core tip: Interaction of viral proteins with host chaperones is critical for the hepatitis C viral (HCV) life cycle. Some of these chaperones, such as cyclophilins have been studied in detail recently and have led to the advent of new therapies for HCV infection with high success rates. Further investigation of the role of chaperones in the viral life cycle may allow for development of novel therapies both for HCV and related viruses.