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Intramolecular recombination enables the formation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) cccDNA in mice after HBV genome transfer using recombinant AAV vectors.

Antiviral Res. 194, 05140:105140 (2021)
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Open Access Green: Postprint online verfügbar 07/2022
The mouse is not a natural host of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and - despite engraftment of hepatocytes with the HBV receptor - does not support formation of HBV covalently closed circular (ccc) DNA serving as a template for viral transcription and permitting persistent infection. In a recent study, cccDNA formation in mouse hepatocytes has been described following an HBV genome delivery by a recombinant, adeno-associated virus vector (rAAV) (Lucifora et al., 2017). The integrity of HBV cccDNA, its origin and functionality, however, remained open. In this study, we investigated the identity, origin, and functionality of cccDNA established in mice infected with rAAV carrying 1.3-fold overlength HBV genomes. We show that replication of HBV genotypes A, B, C and D can be initiated in mouse livers, and that cccDNA derived from all genotypes is detected. Restriction enzyme and exonuclease digestion as well as sequencing analysis of cccDNA amplicons revealed authentic HBV cccDNA without any detectable alteration compared to cccDNA established after HBV infection of human liver cells. Mouse livers transduced with a core protein-deficient HBV using rAAV still supported cccDNA formation demonstrating that the genesis of cccDNA was independent of HBV replication. When mice were infected with an rAAV-HBV1.3 carrying premature stop codons in the 5' but not in the 3' core protein open reading frame, the stop codon was partially replaced by the wild-type sequence. This strongly indicated that intramolecular recombination, based on >900 identical base pairs residing at the both ends of the HBV1.3 transgene was the origin of cccDNA formation. Accordingly, we observed a constant loss of cccDNA molecules from mouse livers over time, while HBeAg levels increased over the first two weeks after rAAV-HBV1.3 infection and remained constant thereafter, suggesting a minor contribution of the cccDNA molecules formed to viral transcription and protein expression. In summary, our results provide strong evidence that intramolecular recombination of an overlength, linear HBV genome, but not HBV genome recycling, enables cccDNA formation in rAAV-HBV mouse models.
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Publikationstyp Artikel: Journalartikel
Dokumenttyp Wissenschaftlicher Artikel
Schlagwörter Adeno-associated Virus ; Hepatitis B Virus ; Mouse Liver ; Recombination ; Cccdna; Adenoassociated Virus; Dna; Transduction; Replication; Persistence; Liver; Models; Cells; Entry
ISSN (print) / ISBN 0166-3542
e-ISSN 1872-9096
Zeitschrift Antiviral Research
Quellenangaben Band: 194, Heft: , Seiten: 05140, Artikelnummer: 105140 Supplement: ,
Verlag Elsevier
Verlagsort Amsterdam
Begutachtungsstatus Peer reviewed
Förderungen Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC)
German Center for Infection Research (DZIF)
German Research Foundation (DFG)