Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) packaging requires prenylation of the HDV large protein (p27), as well as a direct protein-protein interaction between HDV proteins and hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope protein domains. To investigate this interaction, we have analysed the binding capacity of baculovirus-expressed delta p24 and p27 proteins to synthetic peptides specific for the HBV envelope. Although a higher degree of binding was observed with p27, both p24 and p27 could bind HBV envelope peptides. One such peptide corresponded to residues 56-80 located in the cytosolic loop of the small HBV envelope protein, and another corresponded to 23 carboxy-terminal residues of the pre-S1 specific to the large HBV envelope protein. This indicates that in addition to p27, p24 may contribute to packaging of HDV through a protein-protein interaction with HBV envelope domains, and that an interaction between the pre-S1 polypeptide and delta proteins may play a role in infectivity.


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