Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections represent a global health problem, since these account for 350 million chronic infections worldwide that result in 500 000–700 000 deaths each year. Control of viral replication and HBV-related disease and mortality are of utmost importance. Because the currently available antiviral therapies all have major limitations, new strategies to treat chronic HBV infection are eagerly awaited. Six single-domain antibodies (VHHs) targeting the core antigen of HBV (HBcAg) have been generated and three of these bound strongly to HBcAg of both subtype and . These three VHHs were studied as intrabodies directed towards the nucleus or the cytoplasm of a hepatoma cell line that was co-transfected with HBV. A speckled staining of HBcAg was observed in the cytoplasm of cells transfected with nucleotropic VHH intrabodies. Moreover, an increased intracellular accumulation of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) and a complete disappearance of intracellular HBcAg signal were observed with nuclear targeted HBcAg-specific VHHs. These results suggest that HBcAg-specific VHHs targeted to the nucleus affect HBcAg and HBeAg expression and trafficking in HBV-transfected hepatocytes.


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