Syndecan 4 is involved in mediating HCV entry through interaction with lipoviral particle-associated apolipoprotein E.
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Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of liver disease worldwide and HCV infection represents a major health problem. HCV associates with host lipoproteins forming host/viral hybrid complexes termed lipoviral particles. Apolipoprotein E (apoE) is a lipoprotein component that interacts with heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG) to mediate hepatic lipoprotein uptake, and may likewise mediate HCV entry. We sought to define the functional regions of apoE with an aim to identify critical apoE binding partners involved in HCV infection. Using adenoviral vectors and siRNA to modulate apoE expression we show a direct correlation of apoE expression and HCV infectivity, whereas no correlation exists with viral protein expression. Mutating the HSPG binding domain (HSPG-BD) of apoE revealed key residues that are critical for mediating HCV infection. Furthermore, a novel synthetic peptide that mimics apoE's HSPG-BD directly and competitively inhibits HCV infection. Genetic knockdown of the HSPG proteins syndecan (SDC) 1 and 4 revealed that SDC4 principally mediates HCV entry. Our data demonstrate that HCV uses apoE-SDC4 interactions to enter hepatoma cells and establish infection. Targeting apoE-SDC interactions could be an alternative strategy for blocking HCV entry, a critical step in maintaining chronic HCV infection.
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