DNA synthesis within the hepatitis B virus (HBV) nucleocapsid appears to be coupled to nucleocapsid envelopment. The nature of the envelopment signal is unknown, but is thought to involve a conformational change at the surface of the capsid that facilitates interaction with HBV envelope proteins. In binding assays , it was found that empty HBV core particles bound synthetic peptides corresponding to HBV envelope protein domains with the same affinity as did HBV DNA-containing core particles. This suggests that the selection of replication-competent nucleocapsids for envelopment is not related to the capacity of DNA-containing core particles to bind specifically to HBV envelope proteins, and that there must be an alternative mechanism.


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