Hepatitis B virus X protein is essential to initiate and maintain virus replication after infection.
ABSTRACT The molecular biology of hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been extensively studied but the exact role of the hepatitis B X protein (HBx) in the context of natural HBV infections remains unknown.
Primary human hepatocytes and differentiated HepaRG cells allowing conditional trans complementation of HBx were infected with wild type (HBV(wt)) or HBx deficient (HBV(x-)) HBV particles and establishment of HBV replication was followed.
We observed that cells inoculated with HBx-deficient HBV particles (HBV(x-)) did not lead to productive HBV infection contrary to cells inoculated with wild type HBV particles (HBV(wt)). Although equal amounts of nuclear covalently closed circular HBV-DNA (cccDNA) demonstrated comparable uptake and nuclear import, active transcription was only observed from HBV(wt) genomes. Trans-complementation of HBx was able to rescue transcription from the HBV(x-) genome and led to antigen and virion secretion, even weeks after infection. Constant expression of HBx was necessary to maintain HBV antigen expression and replication. Finally, we demonstrated that HBx is not packaged into virions during assembly but is expressed after infection within the new host cell to allow epigenetic control of HBV transcription from cccDNA.
Our results demonstrate that HBx is required to initiate and maintain HBV replication and highlight HBx as the key regulator during the natural infection process.
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ABSTRACT: Infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) may lead to acute or chronic hepatitis. HBV infections were previously much more frequent but there are still 240 million chronic HBV carriers today and ca. 620,000 die per year from the late sequelae liver cirrhosis or hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatitis B was recognized as a disease in ancient times, but its etiologic agent was only recently identified. The first clue in unraveling this mystery was the discovery of an enigmatic serum protein named Australia antigen 50 years ago by Baruch Blumberg. Some years later this was recognized to be the HBV surface antigen (HBsAg). Detection of HBsAg allowed for the first time screening of inapparently infected blood donors for a dangerous pathogen. The need to diagnose clinically silent HBV infections was a strong driving force in the development of modern virus diagnostics. HBsAg was the first infection marker to be assayed with a highly sensitive radio immune assay. HBV itself was among the first viruses to be detected by assay of its DNA genome and IgM antibodies against the HBV core antigen were the first to be selectively detected by the anti-mu capture assay. The cloning and sequencing of the HBV genome in 1978 paved the way to understand the viral life cycle, and allowed development of efficient vaccines and drugs. Today's hepatitis B vaccine was the first vaccine produced by gene technology. Among the problems that still remain today are the inability to achieve a complete cure of chronic HBV infections, the recognition of occult HBV infections, their potential reactivation and the incomplete protection against escape mutants and heterologous HBV genotypes by HBV vaccines.Virology Journal 07/2013; 10(1):239. · 2.09 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Hepatitis virus infections, mainly hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections, constitute a major problem for public health since they have a worldwide distribution and because they are associated with hepatocellular carcinoma and death. Current anti-HBV vaccines seem to be effective in the majority of people. However, an important issue waiting to be tackled nowadays is how to cure patients with chronic hepatitis B. Moreover, no vaccine is available today for the prevention of HCV infection. Therefore, the use of adequate in vitro infection systems is a prerequisite for the molecular understanding of the infection events of these viruses, which could result in the development of novel powerful therapeutics. In this respect, the HepaRG cell line exhibits a hepatocyte-like morphology and displays drug metabolism capacity similar to that of primary hepatocytes. HepaRG cells have yet been proven to be a useful tool in the study of viral infections, particularly for deciphering the mechanism of HBV entry into hepatocytes.Hepatology International 7(2). · 2.64 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Current antivirals can control but not eliminate hepatitis-B-virus (HBV), because HBV establishes a stable nuclear cccDNA. Interferon-α treatment can clear HBV but is limited by systemic side effects. Here, we describe how interferon-α can induce specific degradation of the nuclear viral DNA without hepatotoxicity and propose lymphotoxin-β-receptor activation as a therapeutic alternative. Interferon-α and lymphotoxin-β-receptor activation up-regulated APOBEC3A and 3B cytidine-deaminases, respectively, in HBV-infected cells, primary hepatocytes and human liver-needle biopsies. HBV-core protein mediated the interaction with nuclear cccDNA resulting in cytidine-deamination, apurinic/apyrimidinic site formation and finally cccDNA degradation that prevented HBV-reactivation. Genomic DNA was not affected. Thus, inducing nuclear deaminases - e.g., by lymphotoxin-β-receptor activation - allows development of new therapeutics that combined with existing antivirals may cure hepatitis B.Science 02/2014; · 31.20 Impact Factor