ABSTRACT: The detection is described of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA in preserved hepatocellular carcinoma tissues, which were derived from 14 HBV-seropositive patients. Detection was by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of the target sequence, followed by specific localization of the PCR product with in situ hybridization. PISH (PCR-in situ hybridization) yielded strong positive signals in most of the tumor tissues despite very low copy numbers of chromosome-integrated HBV genome, whereas no signal was detected in control samples, indicating that the signals were specific for HBV. Positive signals were sometimes detected in cirrhotic nodules surrounding the tumor regions, indicating that HBV had infected non-transformed liver cells. HBV-DNA was detected in both nucleus and cytoplasm in some specimens, possibly representing HBV at different stages of the life cycle. In one case, a gradient of viral DNA was revealed, with the highest DNA signal centered at the site of viral antigen expression. Taken together, PISH is shown to be a highly sensitive molecular detection method that is capable of detecting the presence of a low copy number viral genome in situ.
Journal of Virological Methods.