The Envelope Gene of Hepatitis B Virus Is Implicated in Both Differential Virion Secretion and Genome Replication Capacities between Genotype B and Genotype C Isolates.
ABSTRACT: Chronic infection by hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype C is associated with a prolonged replicative phase and an increased risk of liver cancer, compared with genotype B infection. We previously found lower replication capacity but more efficient virion secretion by genotype C than genotype B isolates. Virion secretion requires interaction between core particles and ENVELOPE proteins. In the present study, chimeric constructs between genotype B and genotype C clones were generated to identify the structural basis for differential virion secretion. In addition to dimeric constructs, we also employed 1.1mer constructs, where the cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter drove pregenomic RNA transcription. Through transient transfection experiments in Huh7 cells, we found that exchanging the entire envelope gene or just its S region could enhance virion secretion by genotype B clones while diminishing virion secretion by genotype C. Site-directed mutagenesis established the contribution of genotype-specific divergence at codons 108 and 115 in the preS1 region, as well as codon 126 in the S region, to differential virion secretion. Surprisingly, exchanging the envelope gene or just its S region, but not the core gene or 3' S region, could markedly increase intracellular replicative DNA for genotype C clones but diminish that for genotype B, although the underlying mechanism remains to be clarified.
Project description:Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) promotes persistent hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. It primarily corresponds to small (S) envelope protein secreted as subviral particles. We previously found that genotype D clones expressed less S protein than genotype A clones but showed higher extracellular/intracellular ratio of HBsAg suggesting more efficient secretion. The current study aimed to characterize the underlying mechanism(s) by comparing a subgenotype A2 clone (geno5.4) with a subgenotype D2 clone (geno1.2). Five types of full-length or subgenomic constructs were transfected to Huh7 cells at different dosage. HBsAg was quantified by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay while envelope proteins were detected by Western blot. We found that ratio of extracellular/intracellular HBsAg decreased at increasing amounts of DNA transfected. Conflicting findings from two types of subgenomic construct confirmed stronger secretion inhibitory effect of the genotype D-derived large envelope protein. Chimeric constructs followed by site-directed mutagenesis revealed geno1.2 specific V118/T127 and F161/A168 in the S protein as promoting and inhibitory of HBsAg secretion, respectively. In conclusion, more efficient HBsAg secretion by subgenotype D2 than subgenotype A2 is attributed to lower level of S protein expression in addition to V118 and T127 in S protein, although its F161 and A168 sequences rather reduce HBsAg secretion.
Project description:The pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) serves as the messenger for both core and P proteins, with the downstream P gene translated by ribosomal leaky scanning. HBV replication begins with packaging of the pgRNA and P protein into core protein particles, followed by conversion of RNA into DNA. Genotype G has a low replication capacity due to a low pgRNA level. It has a 36-nucleotide (nt) insertion in the 5' end of the core gene, adding 12 residues to the core protein. The insertion is needed to maintain efficient core protein expression and genome replication but causes inefficient virion secretion yet high maturity of virion DNA. In the present study, we confirmed that the 36-nt insertion had similar effects on core protein expression and virion secretion when it was introduced into genotype A and D clones but no impact on virion genome maturity. Surprisingly, the insertion impaired genome replication in both genotypes. Transcomplementation assays suggest that increased efficiency of core protein translation diminishes ribosomal scanning toward the downstream P gene. Indeed, mutating the core gene Kozak sequence restored core protein to lower levels but increased replication of the insertion mutant. Similar mutations impaired replication in genotype G. On the other hand, replacement of the core promoter sequence of genotype G with genotype A sequence increased pgRNA transcription and genome replication, implicating this region in the low replication capacity of genotype G. Why the 36-nt insertion is present in genotype G but absent in other genotypes is discussed.
Project description:Frequent coinfection of hepatitis B virus genotype G with genotype A suggests that genotype G may require genotype A for replication or transmission. In this regard, genotype G is unique in having a 12-amino-acid extension in the core protein due to a 36-nucleotide insertion near the core gene translation initiation codon. The insertion alters base pairing in the lower stem of the pregenome encapsidation signal, which harbors the core gene initiator, and thus has the potential to affect both core protein translation and pregenomic RNA encapsidation. Genotype G is also unusual for possessing two nonsense mutations in the precore region, which together with the core gene encode a secreted nonstructural protein called hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg). We found that genotype G clones were indeed incapable of HBeAg expression but were competent in RNA transcription, genome replication, and virion secretion. Interestingly, the 36-nucleotide insertion markedly increased the level of core protein, which was achieved at the level of protein translation but did not involve alteration in the mRNA level. Consequently, the variant core protein was readily detectable in patient blood. The 12-amino-acid insertion also enhanced the genome maturity of secreted virus particles, possibly through less efficient envelopment of core particles. Cotransfection of genotypes G and A did not lead to mutual interference of genome replication or virion secretion. Considering that HBeAg is an immunotolerogen required for the establishment of persistent infection, its lack of expression rather than a replication defect could be the primary determinant for the rare occurrence of genotype G monoinfection.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes A and D are prevalent in many parts of the world and show overlapping geographic distributions. We amplified the entire HBV genome from sera of patients with genotypes A and D and generated overlength constructs for transient transfection into Huh7 or HepG2 cells. Genotype D clones were associated with less HBsAg in culture supernatant and even less intracellular HBsAg. They produced less 2.1-kb RNA due to a weaker SPII promoter. Chimeric promoter constructs identified three divergent positions as most critical, and their exchange reversed extracellular HBsAg phenotype. The S protein of genotype D was more efficient at secretion, while its L protein possessed greater inhibitory effect. Swapping the S gene diminished genotypic difference in intracellular S protein but widened the difference in secreted HBsAg. In conclusion, HBV genotypes A and D differ in S protein expression, secretion and modulation by L protein.
Project description:HBV genotypes differ in pathogenicity. In addition, genotype-specific differences in the regulation of transcription and virus replication exist in HBV, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. Here, we show the presence of a G-quadruplex motif in the promoter of the preS2/S gene; this G-quadruplex is highly conserved only in HBV genotype B but not in other HBV genotypes. We demonstrate that this G-quadruplex motif forms a hybrid intramolecular G-quadruplex structure. Interestingly, mutations disrupting the G-quadruplex in HBV genotype B reduced the preS2/S promoter activity, leading to reduced hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) levels. G-quadruplex ligands stabilized the G-quadruplex in genotype B and enhanced the preS2/S promoter activity. Furthermore, mutations disrupting the G-quadruplex in the full-length HBV genotype B constructs were associated with impaired virion secretion. In contrast to typical G-quadruplexes within promoters which are negative regulators of transcription the G-quadruplex in the preS2/S promoter of HBV represents an unconventional positive regulatory element. Our findings highlight (a) G-quadruplex mediated enhancement of transcription and virion secretion in HBV and (b) a yet unknown role for DNA secondary structures in complex genotype-specific regulatory mechanisms in virus genomes.
Project description:The impact of co-infection of several hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes on the clinical outcome remains controversial. This study has for the first time investigated the distribution of HBV genotypes in the serum and in the intrahepatic tissue of liver cirrhotic (LC) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients from India. In addition, the genotype-genotype interplay and plausible mechanism of development of HCC has also been explored.The assessment of HBV genotypes was performed by nested PCR using either surface or HBx specific primers from both the circulating virus in the serum and replicative virus that includes covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and relaxed circular DNA (rcDNA) of HBV from the intrahepatic tissue. The integrated virus within the host chromosome was genotyped by Alu-PCR method. Each PCR products were cloned and sequences of five randomly selected clones were subsequently analysed.HBV/genotype D was detected in the serum of all LC and HCC patients whereas the sequences of the replicative HBV DNA (cccDNA and rcDNA) from the intrahepatic tissue of the same patients revealed the presence of both HBV/genotype C and D. The sequences of the integrated viruses exhibited the solo presence of HBV/genotype C in the majority of LC and HCC tissues while both HBV/genotype C and D clones were found in few patients in which HBV/genotype C was predominated. Moreover, compared to HBV/genotype D, genotype C had higher propensity to generate double strand breaks, ER stress and reactive oxygen species and it had also showed higher cellular homologous-recombination efficiency that engendered more chromosomal rearrangements, which ultimately led to development of HCC.Our study highlights the necessity of routine analysis of HBV genotype from the liver tissue of each chronic HBV infected patient in clinical practice to understand the disease prognosis and also to select therapeutic strategy.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotype C causes prolonged chronic infection and increased risk for liver cancer than genotype B. Our previous work revealed lower replication capacity of wild-type genotype C2 than B2 isolates. HBV DNA replication is driven by pregenomic RNA, which is controlled by core promoter (CP) and further augmented by enhancer I (ENI) and enhancer II (ENII). DNA fragments covering these regulatory elements were amplified from B2 and C2 isolates to generate luciferase reporter constructs. As ENII is fully embedded in CP, we inserted HBV DNA fragments in the sense orientation to determine their combined activities, and in the antisense orientation to measure enhancer activities alone. Genotype B2 isolates displayed higher ENI+ENII+CP, ENII+CP, and ENII activities, but not ENI or ENI+ENII activity, than C2 isolates. The higher ENII+CP activity was partly attributable to 4 positions displaying genotype-specific variability. Exchanging CP region was sufficient to revert the replication phenotypes of several B2 and C2 clones tested. These results suggest that a weaker ENII and/or CP at least partly accounts for the lower replication capacities of wild-type C2 isolates, which could drive the subsequent acquisition of CP mutations. Such mutations increase genome replication and are implicated in liver cancer development.
Project description:HBV reactivation could be induced under immunosuppressive conditions in patients with resolved infection. This study aimed to clarify the viral factors associated with the pathogenesis of HBV reactivation in association with the immunosuppressive status. Whole HBV genome sequences were determined from the sera of 24 patients with HBV reactivation, including 8 cases under strong immunosuppression mediated by hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) and 16 cases without HSCT. Ultra-deep sequencing revealed that the prevalence of genotype B and the ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous evolutionary changes in the surface (S) gene were significantly higher in non-HSCT cases than in patients with HSCT. Those non-synonymous variants included immune escape (6/16 cases) and MHC class II-restricted T-cell epitope variants (6/16 cases). Furthermore, reactivated HBV in 11 of 16 (69%) non-HSCT cases possessed substitutions associated with impaired virion secretion, including E2G, L77R, L98V, T118K, and Q129H in the S region, and M1I/V in the PreS2 region. In conclusion, virologic features of reactivated HBV clones differed depending on the intensity of the immunosuppressive condition. HBV reactivation triggered by immunosuppressive conditions, especially those without HSCT, was characterized by the expansion of variants associated with immune escape, MHC class II-restricted T-cell epitope alterations, and/or impaired virion secretion.
Project description:BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVES: Non-detection of hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope protein (hepatitis B surface antigen, HBsAg) in a chronically HBV infected individual has been described as occult infection. One possible reason for this phenotype is alteration in large (L-HBsAg) to small (S-HBsAg) envelope protein ratio associated with reduced or non secretion of HBsAg. This results in quantitative levels of serum HBsAg below the detection limit of enzyme immunoassays. Genotype D of HBV has a characteristic 33 nucleotide (nt) deletion upstream of the pre-S2/S promoter. This deletion may reduce HBsAg secretion in occult infection patients infected with genotype D HBV. Additional deletions in the pre-S2/S promoter may further aggravate reduced HBsAg secretion in patients infected with genotype D HBV. Thus, the aim of the present study was to determine the role of genotype D specific 33nt deletion and additional pre-S2/S promoter deletions in causing reduced or no secretion of HBsAg, in occult infection. Since these deletions overlap virus polymerase, their effect on virus replication was also investigated. METHODS: We examined the in vitro expression of HBsAg, ratio of cure and 'e' antigen (HBcAg/HBeAg), their secretion and virus replication, using overlength 1.3 mer/1.86 mer genotype A replicons, and genotype D replicons with and without additional pre-S2/S promoter deletions from cases of occult infection. RESULTS: Genotype D replicon showed a decrease in HBsAg secretion compared to the wild-type genotype A. Genotype D replicons carrying additional pre-S2/S promoter deletions, showed further reduction in HBsAg secretion, demonstrated presence of intracellular HBcAg/HBeAg, virus replication intermediates and 'e' antigen secretion. INTERPRETATION & CONCLUSIONS: The characteristic 33 nt deletion of genotype D HBV reduces HBsAg secretion. Additional pre-S2/S promoter deletions may further diminish HBsAg secretion, leading to occult infection. Pre-S2/S promoter deletions do not affect HBV replication.
Project description:Nearly all cases of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections in South Korea have the C2 genotype. Here, we have identified a chronically infected patient who was co-infected with HBV of both the A2 and C2 genotypes by screening 135 Korean chronically infected patients using direct sequencing protocols targeting the 1032-bp polymerase reverse transcriptase (RT) region. Further polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-cloning analysis (22 clones) of the RT showed that this patient had genotype C2 (12 clones), genotype A2 (six clones) and A2/C2 inter-genotype HBV recombinants (four clones). BootScan analysis showed that three of the four recombinants have different types of recombination breakpoints in both the RT and overlapping hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) region. Given the significance of HBsAg as a diagnostic or vaccination target against HBV infection, clinical implications of these identified recombinants should be studied in the future. To our knowledge, this is the first report on A2/C2 inter-genotype HBV recombinants.