Hepatitis C virus (HCV), which infects 2-3% of the world population, is a causative agent of chronic hepatitis and the leading indication for liver transplantation. The ability to propagate HCV in cell culture (HCVcc) is a relatively recent breakthrough and a key tool in the quest for specific antiviral therapeutics. Monitoring HCV infection in culture generally involves bulk population assays, use of genetically modified viruses and/or terminal processing of potentially precious samples. Here we develop a cell-based fluorescent reporter system that allows sensitive distinction of individual HCV-infected cells in live or fixed samples. We demonstrate use of this technology for several previously intractable applications, including live-cell imaging of viral propagation and host response, as well as visualizing infection of primary hepatocyte cultures. Integration of this reporter with modern image-based analysis methods could open new doors for HCV research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
- Molecular Medicine
- Biomedical Engineering