Researchers at the
University of Southern California (USC) have discovered a trigger by
which the Hepatitis C virus enters liver cells ─ shedding light on how
this serious and potentially deadly virus can begin to damage the liver.
The findings, reported in the Dec. 7, 2012 issue of the Journal of
Biological Chemistry, may give scientists a target for future
development of treatments for the virus.
The findings were reported
in a paper titled “Transient Activation of the PI3K-AKT Pathway by
Hepatitis C Virus to Enhance Viral Entry.” First author was Zhe Liu, a
postdoctoral research associate in Ou’s lab.
In the early stages of a Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection, the
researchers found, the virus binds to receptors on the liver cells’
surface and activates PI3K and AKT, two proteins that control cell
growth and metabolism, and which allow HCV to enter liver cells.