A human hepatoma cell line constitutively expressing proteins of hepatitis C virus (HCV) was established by transfection with cDNA encoding part of the virus non-structural (NS) genome region. Proteins consistent with authentic processing at NS3/NS4A, NS4A/NS4B and NS4B/NS5A were identified. Pulse-chase experiments indicated that the cleavage between NS3 and NS4A occurred first and cleavage at other sites followed. Expression of specific surface antigens in response to the presence of HCV proteins was analysed by flow cytometry. A significant increase in CD26 expression was observed in cells expressing the HCV proteins. CD26 plays an important role in cellular signal transduction. Its upregulation in response to the presence of HCV proteins may play a role in viral pathology.


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