An article in this week’s Nature Medicine reports that the enzyme DGAT1 — important for the metabolism of lipids — is necessary for hepatitis C infection and could be a new target for antiviral therapy.
Over 160 million people are infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and infection can lead to severe liver disease in many cases. Hepatitis C infection is closely linked to fat metabolism in liver cells.
Melanie Ott and her team have identified the lipid-synthesizing enzyme DGAT1 as a key host factor for HCV infection. DGAT1 interacts with the virus and is required for its trafficking to lipid droplets in human cells. Inhibition of DGAT1 activity severely impairs viral production, implicating DGAT1 as a potential therapeutic target.