Hepatitis C virus proteins exert an effect on a variety of cellular functions, including gene expression, signal transduction, and apoptosis, and because they possess oncogenic potentials, they have also been suggested to play an important role in hepatocarcinogenesis. Although the mechanisms of hepatocarcinogenesis remain poorly understood, we hypothesized that the disease may arise because of a disturbance of the DNA repair system by hepatitis C virus proteins. To test this hypothesis, we developed a reproducible microsatellite instability assay system for mismatch-repair using human-cultured cells transducted with pCXpur retrovirus expression vector, in which the puromycin resistance gene was rendered out-of-frame by insertion of a (CA)17 dinucleotide repeat tract immediately following the ATG start codon. Using several human cancer cell lines known to be replication error positive or negative, we demonstrated that this assay system was useful for monitoring the propensity for mismatch-repair in the cells. This assay system was applicable to nonneoplastic human PH5CH8 hepatocytes, which could support hepatitis C virus replication. Using PH5CH8 cells, in which hepatitis C virus proteins were stably expressed by the retrovirus-mediated gene transfer, we found that the core protein promoted microsatellite instability in PH5CH8 cells. Interestingly, such promotion by the core protein only occurred in cells having the core protein belonging to genotype 1b or 2a and did not occur in cells having the core protein belonging to genotype 1a, 2b, or 3a. This is the first report to demonstrate that the core protein may disturb the DNA repair system.