1887

Abstract

Baculovirus vectors have been used as efficient delivery vehicles for constitutive gene expression in a variety of mammalian cells. We have further developed the system to allow for regulable expression by placing the gene of interest under the control of an inducible promoter, and complementing it with a second baculovirus vector providing the control elements necessary for promoter activity. We have used this system to express (a) the gene, (b) a ‘minigenome’ derived from hepatitis C virus (HCV) and carrying or (c) the full-length HCV viral genome, in human hepatocyte cell lines in an inducible fashion. Control systems that rely on either the absence of tetracycline or presence of ponasterone to induce gene expression were tested. Expression of was controlled by ponasterone, but β-galactosidase activity was limited to 10–20% of cells. In contrast, the tetracycline-controlled expression system gave a low basal activity and was highly inducible in almost 100% of cells. Inducible expression was also obtained in almost 100% of cells infected with baculoviruses in which an HCV minigenome was placed downstream of the tetracycline-inducible promoter and upstream of either a hammerhead or hepatitis δ virus ribozyme. Northern blot analysis was consistent with accurate cleavage of the minigenome transcript by the hepatitis δ virus ribozyme. Finally, regulable transcript production and viral polypeptide processing could be demonstrated in HepG2 cells infected with baculoviruses bearing the full-length HCV genome. This system thus provides a novel tool for the analysis of HCV replication and host–cell interactions.

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2002-02-01
2019-10-22
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