In this paper the kinetics of hepatitis B virus (HBV) gene expression were investigated in natural and experimentally transfected cell systems. These systems included four human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines containing HBV DNA (TONG/PHC, HEp 3B2, PLC/PRF/5 and HA22T/VGH) as well as a mouse and a rat cell line both experimentally transfected with HBV DNA. Comparative results on the kinetics of hepatitis B surface antigen in these cell systems suggested that the S gene in the integrated state is expressed at different levels. No human cell line derived from HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma produced hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) when medium was concentrated by ultrafiltration. In distinct contrast, the two experimentally transfected cell systems produced e antigen at different levels. When all HBV-containing cell lines were grown as tumours in nude mice, no HBeAg was detected in the serum of these mice inoculated with human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines, in the tumour homogenates, or in the tumour-derived lines, whereas e antigen was expressed both and in the experimentally transfected cell lines. These observations indicate that C gene expression is restricted to transfected cell cultures and this suggests a distinct difference in the mechanisms of HBV gene expression between the two types of model systems.

Keyword(s): gene expression , HBV and nude mice

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