Rab18 is required for viral assembly of hepatitis C virus through trafficking of the core protein to lipid droplets.

Virology

PubMedID: 24997429

Dansako H, Hiramoto H, Ikeda M, Wakita T, Kato N. Rab18 is required for viral assembly of hepatitis C virus through trafficking of the core protein to lipid droplets. Virology. 2014;462-463C166-174.
During persistent infection of HCV, the HCV core protein (HCV-JFH-1 strain of genotype 2a) is recruited to lipid droplets (LDs) for viral assembly, but the mechanism of recruitment of the HCV core protein is uncertain. Here, we demonstrated that one of the Ras-related small GTPases, Rab18, was required for trafficking of the core protein around LDs. The knockdown of Rab18 reduced intracellular and extracellular viral infectivity, but not intracellular viral replication in HCV-JFH-1-infected RSc cells (an HuH-7-derived cell line). Exogenous expression of Rab18 increased extracellular viral infectivity almost two-fold. Furthermore, Rab18 was co-localized with the core protein in HCV-JFH-1-infected RSc cells, and the knockdown of Rab18 blocked recruitment of the HCV-JFH-1 core protein to LDs. These results suggest that Rab18 has an important role in viral assembly through the trafficking of the core protein to LDs.