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New insights into the ORF2 capsid protein, a key player of the hepatitis E virus lifecycle

  • Ankavay, Maliki1
  • Montpellier, Claire1
  • Sayed, Ibrahim M.2, 3, 4
  • Saliou, Jean-Michel1
  • Wychowski, Czeslaw1
  • Saas, Laure1
  • Duvet, Sandrine5
  • Aliouat-Denis, Cécile-Marie1
  • Farhat, Rayan1
  • de Masson d’Autume, Valentin1
  • Meuleman, Philip2
  • Dubuisson, Jean1
  • Cocquerel, Laurence1
  • 1 Univ. Lille, CNRS, Inserm, CHU Lille, Institut Pasteur de Lille, U1019 - UMR 8204 - CIIL- Center for Infection and Immunity of Lille, Lille, F-59000, France , Lille (France)
  • 2 Ghent University, Laboratory of Liver Infectious Diseases, Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Ghent, Belgium , Ghent (Belgium)
  • 3 Assiut University, Microbiology and Immunology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut, Egypt , Assiut (Egypt)
  • 4 University of California, Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA , La Jolla (United States)
  • 5 Univ. Lille, CNRS, UMR 8576 - UGSF - Unité de Glycobiologie Structurale et Fonctionnelle, Lille, F-59000, France , Lille (France)
Published Article
Scientific Reports
Springer Nature
Publication Date
Apr 18, 2019
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-42737-2
Springer Nature


Hepatitis E Virus (HEV) genome encodes three proteins including the ORF2 capsid protein. Recently, we demonstrated that HEV produces three different forms of ORF2: (i) the ORF2i form (infectious ORF2) which is the component of infectious particles, (ii) the secreted ORF2g (glycosylated ORF2) and ORF2c (cleaved ORF2) forms that are not associated with infectious particles, but are the major antigens in HEV-infected patient sera. The ORF2 protein sequence contains three highly conserved potential N-glycosylation sites (N1, N2 and N3). The status and biological relevance of ORF2 N-glycosylation in HEV lifecycle remain to be elucidated. Here, we generated and extensively characterized a series of ORF2 mutants in which the three N-glycosylation sites were mutated individually or in combination. We demonstrated that the ORF2g/c protein is N-glycosylated on N1 and N3 sites but not on the N2 site. We showed that N-glycosylation of ORF2 protein does not play any role in replication and assembly of infectious HEV particles. We found that glycosylated ORF2g/c forms are very stable proteins which are targeted by patient antibodies. We also demonstrated that the ORF2i protein is translocated into the nucleus of infected cells. Hence, our study led to new insights into the molecular mechanisms of ORF2 expression.

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