Suppression of viral RNA binding and the assembly of infectious hepatitis C virus particles in vitro by cyclophilin inhibitors

ACS Citation

Nag, A.; Robotham, J. M.; Tang, H. Suppression of Viral RNA Binding and the Assembly of Infectious Hepatitis C Virus Particles in Vitro by Cyclophilin Inhibitors. J. Virol. 2012, 86 (23), 12616-12624.


Nonstructural protein 5A (NS5A) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an indispensable component of the HCV replication and assembly machineries. Although its precise mechanism of action is not yet clear, current evidence indicates that its structure and function are regulated by the cellular peptidylprolyl isomerase cyclophilin A (CyPA). CyPA binds to proline residues in the C-terminal half of NS5A, in a distributed fashion, and modulates the structure of the disordered domains II and III. Cyclophilin inhibitors (CPIs), including cyclosporine (CsA) and its nonimmunosuppressive derivatives, inhibit HCV infection of diverse genotypes, both in vitro and in vivo. Here we report a mechanism by which CPIs inhibit HCV infection and demonstrate that CPIs can suppress HCV assembly in addition to their well-documented inhibitory effect on RNA replication. Although the interaction between NS5A and other viral proteins is not affected by CPIs, RNA binding by NS5A in cell culture-based HCV (HCVcc)-infected cells is significantly inhibited by CPI treatment, and sensitivity of RNA binding is correlated with previously characterized CyPA dependence or CsA sensitivity of HCV mutants. Furthermore, the difference in CyPA dependence between a subgenomic and a full-length replicon of JFH-1 was due, at least in part, to an additional role that CyPA plays in HCV assembly, a conclusion that is supported by experiments with the clinical CPI alisporivir. The host-directed nature and the ability to interfere with more than one step in the HCV life cycle may result in a higher genetic barrier to resistance for this class of HCV inhibitors.

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Journal of Virology

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