Scientific reports

A screen for inhibitory peptides of hepatitis C virus identifies a novel entry inhibitor targeting E1 and E2.

PMID 28638089


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry into hepatocytes is a multistep process that represents a promising target for antiviral intervention. The viral envelope protein E1E2 plays a critical role in HCV entry. In this study, we sought to identify peptide inhibitors of HCV by screening a library of overlapping peptides covering E1E2. Screening the peptide library identified several novel anti-HCV peptides. Four peptides from glycoprotein E2 were selected for further investigation. The 50% effective dose (ED50) was approximately 5 nM for each peptide. Our data indicated that these peptides inhibited HCV entry at the post-attachment step. Moreover, these peptides blocked cell-to-cell transmission of HCVcc and had broad-spectrum antiviral effects on HCVcc. These peptides exhibited combination inhibitory effects on HCVcc infection when combined with IFN-α2b or anti-CD81 antibody. Interestingly, we observed that E2-42 associated with E1 and E2. Our results indicate that E2-42 inhibits HCV entry via E1 and E2. These findings suggest a new avenue for HCV therapeutic development.