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HCV Core protein needs triacylglycerols to fold onto the endoplasmic reticulum membrane

Abstract : Lipid droplets (LDs) are involved in viral infections, but exactly how remains unclear. Here, we study the hepatitis C virus (HCV) whose Core capsid protein binds to LDs but is also involved in the assembly of virions at the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) bilayer. We found that the amphipathic helix-containing domain of Core, D2, senses triglycerides (TGs) rather than LDs per se. In the absence of LDs, D2 can bind to the ER membrane but only if TG molecules are present in the bilayer. Accordingly, the pharmacological inhibition of the diacylglycerol O-acyltransferase enzymes, mediating TG synthesis in the ER, inhibits D2 association with the bilayer. We found that TG molecules enable D2 to fold into alpha helices. Sequence analysis reveals that D2 resembles the apoE lipid-binding region. Our data support that TG in LDs promotes the folding of Core, which subsequently relocalizes to contiguous ER regions. During this motion, Core may carry TG molecules to these regions where HCV lipoviroparticles likely assemble. Consistent with this model, the inhibition of Arf1/COPI, which decreases LD surface accessibility to proteins and ER-LD material exchange, severely impedes the assembly of virions. Altogether, our data uncover a critical function of TG in the folding of Core and HCV replication and reveals, more broadly, how TG accumulation in the ER may provoke the binding of soluble amphipathic helix-containing proteins to the ER bilayer.
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Submitted on : Friday, November 5, 2021 - 11:36:28 AM
Last modification on : Monday, January 10, 2022 - 5:40:06 PM

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Dalila Ajjaji, Kalthoum Ben M’barek, Bertrand Boson, Mohyeddine Omrane, Ama Gassama‐diagne, et al.. HCV Core protein needs triacylglycerols to fold onto the endoplasmic reticulum membrane. Traffic, Wiley, 2021, ⟨10.1111/tra.12825⟩. ⟨hal-03416457⟩

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