Processing of HCV viral precursor protein requires at least two viral proteinases, Cpro-1 and Cpro-2, in addition to cellular proteinases. The HCV polypeptide that covers the region for the two viral proteinase domains was expressed in insect cells using a baculovirus expression system. The two proteinase activities were demonstrated in the infected cells. The Cpro-1-dependent cleavage site was estimated from the amino acid sequence of the N-terminus of the processed product. Analyses of the susceptibilities of various mutants altered at position P 1 and P 1′ of the putative cleavage site suggested that amino acid residues at these positions is not essential for recognition and cleavage by Cpro-1-dependent activity.
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