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Li M, Sohn JA, Seeger C
Distribution of Hepatitis B Virus Nuclear DNA
J Virol (2018) In process.
Chronic hepatitis B affects over 300 million people who are at risk of developing liver cancer. The basis for the persistence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in hepatocytes, even in the presence of available antiviral therapies, lies in the accumulation of covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) in nuclei of infected cells. While methods for cccDNA quantification from liver biopsy specimens and cell lines expressing the virus are known, information about cccDNA formation, stability, and turnover is lacking. In particular, little is known about the fate of cccDNA during cell division. To fill the gaps in knowledge concerning cccDNA biology, we have developed a fluorescence imaging in situ hybridization (FISH)-based assay for the detection of duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) cccDNA and HBV nuclear DNA in established cell lines. Using FISH, we determined the distribution of cccDNA under conditions mimicking chronic infections with and without antiviral therapy, which prevents de novo viral replication. Our results showed that the copy numbers of viral nuclear DNA can vary by as much as 1.8 orders of magnitude among individual cells and that antiviral therapy leads to a reduction in nuclear DNA in a manner consistent with symmetrical distribution of viral DNA to daughter cells.IMPORTANCE A mechanistic understanding of the stability of HBV cccDNA in the presence of antiviral therapy and during cell division induced by immune-mediated lysis of infected hepatocytes will be critical for the future design of curative antiviral therapies against chronic hepatitis B. Current knowledge about cccDNA stability was largely derived from quantitative analyses of cccDNA levels present in liver samples, and little was known about the fate of cccDNA in individual cells. The development of a FISH-based assay for cccDNA tracking provided the first insights into the fate of DHBV cccDNA and nuclear HBV DNA under conditions mimicking antiviral therapy.
Publication Date: 2018-01-01.
PMCID: PMC5730781
Last updated on Monday, May 04, 2020