1887

Abstract

Defective hepatitis B virus (dHBV) particles contain genomes corresponding to singly spliced HBV RNA. A limited number of studies show that dHBV is present in all chronically HBV-infected patients. Clinical studies have linked dHBV and dHBV gene products to high virus loads and liver damage. The replication characteristics of dHBV genomes remain poorly understood. We found that the splice donor/acceptor sites critical for the formation of dHBV genomes are conserved across HBV genotypes. We report a novel method to create dHBV constructs from corresponding wild-type (WT) HBV constructs. We assessed the transcriptional characteristics of the dHBV constructs with those of the corresponding WT construct using a cell culture model. Interestingly, dHBV constructs had higher pre-genomic RNA levels, transcription efficiency, HBV e antigen levels and intracellular HBV core antigen levels compared with the corresponding WT HBV constructs. Our findings highlight previously unrecognized fundamental molecular characteristics of dHBV genomes and their potential role in the pathogenesis of HBV infection.

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2015-10-01
2019-10-23
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