Identification of a lactoferrin-derived peptide possessing binding activity to hepatitis C virus E2 envelope protein

Akito Nozaki, Masanori Ikeda, Atsushi Naganuma, Takashi Nakamura, Michiharu Inudoh, Katsuaki Tanaka, Nobuyuki Kato

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66 Citations (Scopus)


Bovine and human lactoferrins (LF) prevent hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in cultured human hepatocytes; the preventive mechanism is thought to be the direct interaction between LF and HCV. To clarify this hypothesis, we have characterized the binding activity of LF to HCV E2 envelope protein and have endeavored to determine which region(s) of LF are important for this binding activity. Several regions of human LF have been expressed and purified as thioredoxin-fused proteins in Escherichia coli. Far-Western blot analysis using these LF fragments and the E2 protein, expressed in Chinese hamster ovary cells, revealed that the 93 carboxyl amino acids of LF specifically bound to the E2 protein. The 93 carboxyl amino acids of LFs derived from bovine and horse cells also possessed similar binding activity to the E2 protein. In addition, the amino acid sequences of these carboxyl regions appeared to show partial homology to CD81, a candidate receptor for HCV, and the binding activity of these carboxyl regions was also comparable with that of CD81. Further deletion analysis identified 33 amino acid residues as the minimum binding site in the carboxyl region of LF, and the binding specificity of these 33 amino acids was also confirmed by using 33 maltose-binding protein-fused amino acids. Furthermore, we demonstrated that the 33 maltose-binding protein-fused amino acids prevented HCV infection in cultured human hepatocytes. In addition, the site-directed mutagenesis to an Ala residue in both terminal residues of the 33 amino acids revealed that Cys at amino acid 628 was determined to be critical for binding to the E2 protein. These results led us to consider the development of an effective anti-HCV peptide. This is the first identification of a natural protein-derived peptide that specifically binds to HCV E2 protein and prevents HCV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10162-10173
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 21 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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