Characterization of IL-21-expressing recombinant hepatitis B virus (HBV) as a therapeutic agent targeting persisting HBV infection.
ABSTRACT: Chronic infection by hepatitis B virus (HBV) is associated with high risks of liver fibrosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. In mouse models of HBV persistence, interleukin 21 (IL-21) has been identified as a potent inducer of viral clearance. Strict hepatotropism makes recombinant HBV (rHBV) vectors ideal for liver-targeting gene delivery. Previously, we established an rHBV vector termed 5c3c, which is highly replicative by itself, but requires HBV envelope proteins provided in trans to produce virions. 5c3c-based rHBV virions are capable of delivering cargo gene expression driven by HBV Sp1 promoter into infected hepatocytes. In this work, we explore the feasibility of using 5c3c-derived rHBV for liver-specific delivery of IL-21 as treatment of chronic HBV infection. Methods: 5c3c-derived rHBV replicons harboring mouse or human IL-21 genes (termed 5c3c-mIL-21 and 5c3c-hIL-21 respectively) were constructed and then tested for the production of rHBV virions in vitro and in vivo. 5c3c-mIL-21's anti-HBV effects were determined in chronic HBV mouse model. Furthermore, superinfection by rHBV virions was analysed using HBV-infected HepG2/NTCP cells and human liver chimeric mice. Results: 5c3c-mIL-21 and 5c3c-hIL-21 were efficiently replicative and produced enveloped virions when provided with envelope proteins, both in vitro and in vivo. In mouse model of HBV persistence, IL-21 expressed from injected 5c3c-mIL-21 replicon induced complete viral clearance. 5c3c-mIL-21 and 5c3c-hIL-21 virions could infect HepG2/NTCP cells and engender sustained IL-21 expression. Most importantly, IL-21-expressing rHBV virions could superinfect HBV-infected HepG2/NTCP cells and human hepatocytes in human liver chimeric mice, and engender sustained IL-21 expression and rHBV production. Conclusion: These data suggest the high potential of 5c3c-derived IL-21-expressing rHBV as a novel therapeutic against chronic HBV infection.
Project description:We previously reported a proof-of-concept study for curing chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection using a foreign-antigen recombinant HBV (rHBV) as a gene therapy vector. Targeted elimination of wild-type HBV (wtHBV)-infected cells could be achieved by functionally activating an in situ T-cell response against the foreign antigen. However, as chronic HBV infection spreads to all hepatocytes, specific targeting of virus-infected cells is thought to be less critical. It is also feared that rHBV may not induce active immunization in a setting resembling natural infection. For this immunotherapeutic approach to be practically viable, in the present study, we used a recombinant adenovirus (rAd) vector for rHBV delivery. The rAd vector allowed efficient transduction of wtHBV-producing HepG2 cells, with transferred rHBV undergoing dominant viral replication. Progeny rHBV virions proved to be infectious, as demonstrated in primary tupaia hepatocytes. These results greatly expanded the antiviral capacity of the replication-defective rAd/rHBV in wtHBV-infected liver tissue. With prior priming in the periphery, transduction with rAd/rHBV attracted a substantial influx of the foreign-antigen-specific T-effector cells into the liver. Despite the fully activated T-cell response, active expression of rHBV was observed for a prolonged time, which is essential for rHBV to achieve sustained expansion. In a mouse model of HBV persistence established by infection with a recombinant adeno-associated virus carrying the wtHBV genome, rAd/rHBV-based immunotherapy elicited a foreign-antigen-specific T-cell response that triggered effective viral clearance and subsequent seroconversion to HBV. It therefore represents an efficient strategy to overcome immune tolerance, thereby eliminating chronic HBV infection.Adenovirus-delivered rHBV activated a foreign-antigen-specific T-cell response that abrogated HBV persistence in a mouse model. Our study provides further evidence of the potential of foreign-antigen-based immunotherapy for the treatment of chronic HBV infection.
Project description:Nucleos(t)ide analogues (NAs) have been widely used for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B (CHB). Because viral DNA polymerase lacks proofreading function (3' exonuclease activity), theoretically, the incorporated NAs would irreversibly terminate viral DNA synthesis. This study explored the natures of nascent hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA and infectivity of progeny virions produced under NA treatment. HBV infectivity was determined by infection of HepG2-NTCP cells and primary human hepatocytes (PHHs). Biochemical properties of HBV DNA in the progeny virions were investigated by qPCR, northern blotting, or Southern blotting hybridization, sucrose gradient centrifugation, and in vitro endogenous DNA polymerase assay. Progeny HBV virions produced under NA treatment were mainly not infectious to HepG2-NTCP cells or PHHs. Biochemical analysis revealed that under NA treatment, HBV DNA in nucleaocapsids or virions were predominantly short minus-strand DNA with irreversible termination. This finding was supported by the observation of first disappearance of relaxed circular DNA and then the proportional decline of HBV-DNA levels corresponding to the regions of PreC/C, S, and X genes in serial sera of patients receiving NA treatment. Conclusion: HBV virions produced under NA treatment are predominantly replication deficient because the viral genomes are truncated and elongation of DNA chains is irreversibly terminated. Clinically, our results suggest that the viral loads of CHB patients under NA therapy vary with the different regions of genome being detected by qPCR assays. Our findings also imply that NA prevention of perinatal and sexual HBV transmission as well as infection of transplanted livers works not only by reducing viral loads, but also by producing noninfectious virions.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a worldwide health problem because of its potential to cause liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Silibinin is a constituent of an extract of milk thistle, which is empirically used as a herbal medicine for the protection of liver, but its detailed effects on HBV are unknown. Because a previous study reported that silibinin hinders clathlin-mediated endocytosis (CME), we aimed to test whether silibinin inhibits the entry of HBV into hepatocytes. Using HepG2-NTCP-C4 cells, which overexpress sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), it was shown that silibinin inhibited HBV infection dose-dependently. Similar effects were observed using human primary hepatocytes (PXB-cells). Additionally, a combination of silibinin and entecavir reduced HBV DNA in the culture supernatant more than either mono-treatment alone in HepG2-NTCP-C4 cells that had already been infected with HBV. Silibinin decreased transferrin uptake but did not affect the interaction between the HBV envelope and NTCP, suggesting that silibinin might inhibit HBV infection by hindering CME. In conclusion, this study showed that silibinin inhibits HBV entry in vitro.
Project description:Hepatocyte proliferation could result in the loss of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and the emergence of cccDNA-cleared nascent hepatocytes, which appear refractory to hepatitis B virus (HBV) reinfection with unknown mechanism(s). Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is the functional receptor for HBV entry. In this study, down-regulation of cell membrane localized NTCP expression in proliferating hepatocytes was found to prevent HBV infection in HepG2-NTCP-tet cells and in liver-humanized mice. In patients, lower NTCP protein expression was correlated well with higher levels of hepatocyte proliferation and less HBsAg expression in HBV-related focal nodular hyperplasia (FNH) tissues. Clinically, significantly lower NTCP protein expression was correlated with more active hepatocyte proliferation in CHB patients with severe active necroinflammation and better antiviral treatment outcome. Mechanistically, the activation of cell cycle regulatory genes p53, S-phase kinase-associated protein 2 (SKP2) and cyclin D1 during cell proliferation, as well as proliferative and inflammatory cytokine Interleukin-6 (IL-6) could transcriptionally down-regulate NTCP expression. From these aspects, we conclude that within the milieu of hepatocyte proliferation, down-regulation of cell membrane localized NTCP expression level renders nascent hepatocytes resistant to HBV reinfection. This may accelerate virus clearance during immune-mediated cell death and compensatory proliferation of survival hepatocytes.
Project description:Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) has been reported as a functional receptor for hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. However, HBV could not efficiently infect HepG2 cells expressing NTCP (NTCP-HepG2 cells) under adherent monolayer-cell conditions. In this study, NTCP was mainly detected in the basolateral membrane region, but not the apical site, of monolayer NTCP-HepG2 cells. We hypothesized that non-adherent cell conditions of infection would enhance HBV infectivity. Non-adherent NTCP-HepG2 cells were prepared by treatment with trypsin and EDTA, which did not degrade NTCP in the membrane fraction. HBV successfully infected NTCP-HepG2 cells at a viral dose 10 times lower in non-adherent phase than in adherent phase. Efficient infection of non-adherent NTCP-HepG2 cells with blood-borne or cell-culture-derived HBV was observed and was remarkably impaired in the presence of the myristoylated preS1 peptide. HBV could also efficiently infect HepaRG cells under non-adherent cell conditions. We screened several compounds using our culture system and identified proscillaridin A as a potent anti-HBV agent with an IC50 value of 7.2?nM. In conclusion, non-adherent host cell conditions of infection augmented HBV infectivity in an NTCP-dependent manner, thus providing a novel strategy to identify anti-HBV drugs and investigate the mechanism of HBV infection.
Project description:Cell culture (cc)-derived hepatitis B virus (HBV) can infect differentiated HepaRG cells, but efficient infection requires addition of polyethylene glycol (PEG) during inoculation. Identification of sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) as an HBV receptor enabled ccHBV infection of NTCP reconstituted HepG2 cells, although very little hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is produced. We found infection by patient serum-derived HBV (sHBV), which required purification of viral particles through ultracentrifugation or PEG precipitation, was PEG independent and much more efficient in HepaRG cells than in HepG2/NTCP cells. In contrast to hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg), HBsAg was not a reliable marker of productive sHBV infection at early time points. A low HBsAg/HBeAg ratio by ccHBV-infected HepG2/NTCP cells was attributable to dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) in culture medium, NTCP overexpression, and HBV genotype D. HepG2/NTCP cells released more viral antigens than HepG2 cells after HBV genome delivery by adeno-associated virus, and stable expression of NTCP in a ccHBV producing cell line increased viral mRNAs, proteins, replicative DNA, and covalently closed circular DNA. NTCP protein expression in HepG2/NTCP cells, despite being driven by the cytomegalovirus promoter, was markedly increased by DMSO treatment. This at least partly explains ability of DMSO to promote ccHBV infection in such cell lines. In conclusion, NTCP appeared inefficient to mediate infection by serum-derived HBV. It could promote HBV RNA transcription while inhibiting HBsAg secretion. Efficient PEG-independent sHBV infection of HepaRG cells permits comparative studies of diverse clinical HBV isolates and will help identify additional factors on virion surface promoting attachment to hepatocytes.Currently in vitro infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) depends on cell culture-derived HBV inoculated in the presence of polyethylene glycol. We found patient serum-derived HBV could efficiently infect differentiated HepaRG cells independent of polyethylene glycol, which represents a more physiological infection system. Serum-derived HBV has poor infectivity in HepG2 cells reconstituted with sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), the currently accepted HBV receptor. Moreover, HepG2/NTCP cells secreted very little hepatitis B surface antigen after infection with cell culture-derived HBV, which was attributed to NTCP overexpression, genotype D virus, and dimethyl sulfoxide added to culture medium. NTCP could promote HBV RNA transcription, protein expression, and DNA replication in HepG2 cells stably transfected with HBV DNA, while dimethyl sulfoxide could increase NTCP protein level despite transcriptional control by a cytomegalovirus promoter. Therefore, this study revealed several unusual features of NTCP as an HBV receptor and established conditions for efficient serum virus infection in vitro.
Project description:Sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) has been identified as a hepatitis B virus (HBV) receptor, and its overexpression in HepG2 cell lines leads to efficient secretion of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) following challenge with a large dose of cell culture-derived HBV (cHBV) particles. However, NTCP-reconstituted HepG2 cells are inefficiently infected by patient serum-derived HBV (sHBV) and release very little hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) following cHBV infection, unlike differentiated HepaRG cells, which are naturally susceptible to both cHBV and sHBV particles. Here, we investigated whether NTCP could explain the different behaviors of the two cell types. Endogenous NTCP protein from differentiated HepaRG cells was unglycosylated despite wild-type coding sequence. HepaRG cells stably transfected with an epitope-tagged NTCP expression construct displayed higher sHBV but not cHBV susceptibility than cells transfected with the null mutant. Tagged NTCP introduced to both HepG2 and HepaRG cells was glycosylated, with N5 and N11 being sites of N-linked glycosylation. Mutating N5, N11, or both did not alter cell surface availability of NTCP or its subcellular localization, with both the singly glycosylated and nonglycosylated forms still capable of mediating cHBV infection in HepG2 cells. In conclusion, nonglycosylated NTCP is expressed by differentiated HepaRG cells and capable of mediating cHBV infection in HepG2 cells, but it cannot explain differential susceptibility of HepaRG and HepG2/NTCP cells to cHBV versus sHBV infection and different HBsAg/HBeAg ratios following cHBV infection. The responsible host factor(s) remains to be identified.IMPORTANCE HBV can infect differentiated HepaRG cells and also HepG2 cells overexpressing NTCP, the currently accepted HBV receptor. However, HepG2/NTCP cells remain poorly susceptible to patient serum-derived HBV particles and release very little hepatitis B surface antigen following infection by cell culture-derived HBV. We found differentiated HepaRG cells expressed nonglycosylated NTCP despite a wild-type coding sequence. NTCP introduced to HepG2 cells was glycosylated at two N-linked glycosylation sites, but mutating either or both sites failed to prevent infection by cell culture-derived HBV or to confer susceptibility to serum-derived HBV. Overexpressing NTCP in HepRG cells did not increase infection by cell culture-derived HBV or distort the ratio between the two viral antigens. These findings suggest that host factors unique to HepaRG cells are required for efficient infection by serum-derived HBV, and factors other than NTCP contribute to balanced viral antigen production following infection by cell culture-derived HBV.
Project description:Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a blood-borne pathogen responsible for chronic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. The mechanism of HBV entry into hepatocytes remains to be investigated. Recently, sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) was discovered as a major HBV receptor based on an in vitro infection system using NTCP-reconstituted HepG2 cells. However, this infection system relies on the compound polyethylene glycol (4% PEG), which is not physiologically relevant to human infection. High concentration of heparin has been commonly used as an inhibitor control for in vitro infection in the field. Surprisingly, we found that heparin at physiological concentration can enhance HBV infection in a PreS1-peptide sensitive, NTCP-dependent manner in both HepaRG and HepG2-NTCP-AS cells. O-sulfation of heparin is more important for the infection enhancement than N-sulfation. This system based on the HepG2-NTCP-AS cells can support in vitro infection with HBV genotypes B and C, as well as using serum samples from HBeAg positive and negative chronic carriers. In summary, our study provides a PEG-free infection system closely resembling human natural infection. In addition, it points to a future research direction for heparin and heparin-binding host factor(s) in the blood, which are potentially involved in viral entry. To our knowledge, this is the first soluble and circulatory host factor which can enhance HBV in vitro infection.
Project description:Interleukin-5 (IL-5) is a key mediator of eosinophilic inflammation. The biological role of this cytokine in an allergic airway inflammatory response has been widely demonstrated in guinea pigs, yet the interaction of guinea pig IL-5 (gpIL-5) with its receptor has not been studied. Experiments were performed to quantitate the interaction of gpIL-5 with gpIL-5r and to compare this affinity with that of hIL-5 and mIL-5 and their cognate receptors. The cross-species affinity and agonist efficacy were evaluated to see if gpIL-5r had a restricted species reactivity (as is the case with mIL-5r) or did not distinguish between IL-5 orthologs (similar to hIL-5r). gpIL-5 was cloned using mRNA isolated from cells obtained by bronchoalveolar lavage. Recombinant gpIL-5 was expressed in T. ni insect cells and purified from spent media. Binding assays were performed using insect cells expressing hIL-5ralphabeta or gpIL-5ralphabeta1 as previously described (Cytokine, 12:858-866, 2000) or using B13 cells which express mIL-5r. The agonist potency and efficacy properties of each IL-5 ortholog were evaluated by quantitating the proliferative response of human TF-1 cells and murine B13 cells. gpIL-5 bound with high affinity to recombinant gpIL-5r as demonstrated by displacing [125I]hIL-5 (Ki = 160 pM). gpIL-5 also bound to hIL-5r with high affinity (Ki = 750 pM). hIL-5 and mIL-5 showed similar, high-affinity binding profiles to both gpIL-5r and hIL-5r. In contrast, gpIL-5 and hIL-5 did not bind to the mIL-5r as demonstrated by an inability to displace [125I]mIL-5, even at 1000-fold molar excess. These differences in affinity for IL-5r orthologs correlated with bioassay results: human TF-1 cells showed roughly comparable proliferative responses to guinea pig, human and murine IL-5 whereas murine B13 cells showed a strong preference for murine over guinea pig and human IL-5 (EC50 = 1.9, 2200 and 720 pM, respectively). Recombinant gpIL-5 binds to the gpIL-5r with high affinity, similar to that seen with the human ligand-receptor pair. gpIL-5r and hIL-5r do not distinguish between the three IL-5 orthologs whereas mIL-5r has restricted specificity for its cognate ligand.
Project description:We previously identified that hepatitis B virus (HBV) encodes a microRNA (HBV-miR-3) that restrains HBV replication by targeting the HBV transcript. However, whether HBV-miR-3 affects host innate immunity to modulate HBV replication remains unclear. Here, we examined the vital functions of HBV-miR-3 in the innate immune response after HBV infection. We found that HBV-miR-3 expression gradually increased in a dose- and time-dependent manner in HBV-infected HepG2-NTCP cells. HBV-miR-3 activated the JAK/STAT signaling pathway by downregulating SOCS5 in hepatocytes, thereby enhancing the IFN-induced anti-HBV effect. In addition, HBV-miR-3 in exosomes facilitated the M1 polarization of macrophages. Furthermore, exosomes containing HBV-miR-3 enhanced the secretion of IL-6 via inhibiting the SOCS5-mediated ubiquitination of EGFR. In short, these results demonstrate that HBV-miR-3 activates the innate immune response to restrain HBV replication by multiple pathways, which may suppress HBV-induced acute liver cell injury and affect the progression of persistent HBV infection.