Indexed on: 24 Sep '14Published on: 24 Sep '14Published in: Journal of biomolecular structure & dynamics
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the leading cause of chronic liver disease in humans. The envelope proteins of HCV are potential candidates for vaccine development. The absence of three-dimensional (3D) structures for the functional domain of HCV envelope proteins [E1.E2] monomer complex has hindered overall understanding of the virus infection, and also structure-based drug design initiatives. In this study, we report a 3D model containing both E1 and E2 proteins of HCV using the recently published structure of the core domain of HCV E2 and the functional part of E1, and investigate immunogenic implications of the model. HCV [E1.E2] molecule is modeled by using aa205-319 of E1 to aa421-716 of E2. Published experimental data were used to further refine the [E1.E2] model. Based on the model, we predict 77 exposed residues and several antigenic sites within the [E1.E2] that could serve as vaccine epitopes. This study identifies eight peptides which have antigenic propensity and have two or more sequentially exposed amino acids and 12 singular sites are under negative selection pressure that can serve as vaccine or therapeutic targets. Our special interest is 285FLVGQLFTFSPRRHW299 which has five negatively selected sites (L286, V287, G288, T292, and G303) with three of them sequential and four amino acids exposed (F285, L286, T292, and R296). This peptide in the E1 protein maps to dengue envelope vaccine target identified previously by our group. Our model provides for the first time an overall view of both the HCV envelope proteins thereby allowing researchers explore structure-based drug design approaches.