1887

Abstract

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) protein synthesis is mediated by a highly conserved internal ribosome entry site (IRES), mostly located at the 5′ untranslatable region (UTR) of the viral genome. The translation mechanism is different from that used by cellular cap-mRNAs, making IRESs an attractive target site for new antiviral drugs. The present work characterizes a chimeric RNA molecule (HH363-50) composed of two inhibitors: a hammerhead ribozyme targeting position 363 of the HCV genome and an aptamer directed towards the essential stem–loop structure in domain IV of the IRES region (which contains the translation start codon). The inhibitor RNA interferes with the formation of a translationally active complex, stalling its progression at the level of 80S particle formation. This action is likely related to the effective and specific blocking of HCV IRES-dependent translation achieved in Huh-7 cells. The inhibitor HH363-50 also reduces HCV RNA levels in a subgenomic replicon system. The present findings suggest that HH363-50 could be an effective anti-HCV compound and highlight the possibilities of antiviral agents based on RNA molecules.

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2009-07-01
2019-10-14
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