The lipid droplet is an important organelle for hepatitis C virus production.
Authors: Miyanari Y, Atsuzawa K, Usuda N, Watashi K, Hishiki T, Zayas M, Bartenschlager R, Wakita T, Hijikata M, Shimotohno K.
CellNetworks People: Bartenschlager Ralf
Journal: Nat Cell Biol. 2007 Sep;9(9):1089-97.

The lipid droplet (LD) is an organelle that is used for the storage of neutral lipids. It dynamically moves through the cytoplasm, interacting with other organelles, including the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). These interactions are thought to facilitate the transport of lipids and proteins to other organelles. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a causative agent of chronic liver diseases. HCV capsid protein (Core) associates with the LD, envelope proteins E1 and E2 reside in the ER lumen, and the viral replicase is assumed to localize on ER-derived membranes. How and where HCV particles are assembled, however, is poorly understood. Here, we show that the LD is involved in the production of infectious virus particles. We demonstrate that Core recruits nonstructural (NS) proteins and replication complexes to LD-associated membranes, and that this recruitment is critical for producing infectious viruses. Furthermore, virus particles were observed in close proximity to LDs, indicating that some steps of virus assembly take place around LDs. This study reveals a novel function of LDs in the assembly of infectious HCV and provides a new perspective on how viruses usurp cellular functions.