Hepatitis C virus: life cycle in cells, infection and host response, and analysis of molecular markers influencing the outcome of infection and response to therapy.
Dustin LB., Bartolini B., Capobianchi MR., Pistello M.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major global health burden accounting for around 170 million chronic infections worldwide. Since its discovery, which dates back to about 30 years ago, many details of the viral genome organization and the astonishing genetic diversity have been unveiled but, owing to the difficulty of culturing HCV in vitro and obtaining fully susceptible yet immunocompetent in vivo models, we are still a long way from the full comprehension of viral life cycle, host cell pathways facilitating or counteracting infection, pathogenetic mechanisms in vivo, and host defences. Here, we illustrate the viral life cycle into cells, describe the interplay between immune and genetic host factors shaping the course of infection, and provide details of the molecular approaches currently used to genotype, monitor replication in vivo, and study the emergence of drug-resistant viral variants.