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Large-scale production and structural and biophysical characterizations of the human hepatitis B virus polymerase.


ABSTRACT: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major human pathogen that causes serious liver disease and 600,000 deaths annually. Approved therapies for treating chronic HBV infections usually target the multifunctional viral polymerase (hPOL). Unfortunately, these therapies--broad-spectrum antivirals--are not general cures, have side effects, and cause viral resistance. While hPOL remains an attractive therapeutic target, it is notoriously difficult to express and purify in a soluble form at yields appropriate for structural studies. Thus, no empirical structural data exist for hPOL, and this impedes medicinal chemistry and rational lead discovery efforts targeting HBV. Here, we present an efficient strategy to overexpress recombinant hPOL domains in Escherichia coli, purifying them at high yield and solving their known aggregation tendencies. This allowed us to perform the first structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL domains. Apo-hPOL domains adopt mainly α-helical structures with small amounts of β-sheet structures. Our recombinant material exhibited metal-dependent, reverse transcriptase activity in vitro, with metal binding modulating the hPOL structure. Calcomine orange 2RS, a small molecule that inhibits duck HBV POL activity, also inhibited the in vitro priming activity of recombinant hPOL. Our work paves the way for structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL and should facilitate high-throughput lead discovery for HBV.The viral polymerase from human hepatitis B virus (hPOL) is a well-validated therapeutic target. However, recombinant hPOL has a well-deserved reputation for being extremely difficult to express in a soluble, active form in yields appropriate to the structural studies that usually play an important role in drug discovery programs. This has hindered the development of much-needed new antivirals for HBV. However, we have solved this problem and report here procedures for expressing recombinant hPOL domains in Escherichia coli and also methods for purifying them in soluble forms that have activity in vitro. We also present the first structural and biophysical characterizations of hPOL. Our work paves the way for new insights into hPOL structure and function, which should assist the discovery of novel antivirals for HBV.

SUBMITTER: Voros J 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC3958071 | BioStudies | 2014-01-01

SECONDARY ACCESSION(S): U87746

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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