Complement fixing hepatitis B core antigen immune complexes in the liver of patients with HBs antigen positive chronic disease.
One hundred and fifty-two biopsies from serologically HBsAg positive and negative patients with liver disease were studied in immunofluorescence: for the presence of the surface (HBs) and the core (HBc) antigenic determinants foeterminants of the hepatitis B virus, of immunoglobulins and complement (C) deposits, and for the capacity to fix human C. Circumstantial evidence is presented suggesting that HBc immune-complexes are a relevant feature in the establishment and progression of chronic HBSAg liver disease. C fixation by liver cells was shown in all HBC positive patients with chronic hepatitis; an active form was present in every case, except two with a persistent hepatitis, an inverse ratio of HBc to C binding fluorescence being noted between active chronic hepatitis and cirrhotic patients. HBc without C fixation was observed in only three patients in the incubation phase of infectious hepatitis. IgG deposits were often found in HBc containing, C fixing nuclei. No C binding or IgG deposits were observed in acute self-limited type B hepatitis, in serologically positive patients with normal liver or minimal histological lesions, with and without HBs cytoplasmic fluorescence in their biopsy, or in serologically negative individuals. (+info)
Native display of complete foreign protein domains on the surface of hepatitis B virus capsids.
The nucleocapsid of hepatitis B virus (HBV), or HBcAg, is a highly symmetric structure formed by multiple dimers of a single core protein that contains potent T helper epitopes in its 183-aa sequence. Both factors make HBcAg an unusually strong immunogen and an attractive candidate as a carrier for foreign epitopes. The immunodominant c/e1 epitope on the capsid has been suggested as a superior location to convey high immunogenicity to a heterologous sequence. Because of its central position, however, any c/e1 insert disrupts the core protein's primary sequence; hence, only peptides, or rather small protein fragments seemed to be compatible with particle formation. According to recent structural data, the epitope is located at the tips of prominent surface spikes formed by the very stable dimer interfaces. We therefore reasoned that much larger inserts might be tolerated, provided the individual parts of a corresponding fusion protein could fold independently. Using the green fluorescent protein (GFP) as a model insert, we show that the chimeric protein efficiently forms fluorescent particles; hence, all of its structurally important parts must be properly folded. We also demonstrate that the GFP domains are surface-exposed and that the chimeric particles elicit a potent humoral response against native GFP. Hence, proteins of at least up to 238 aa can be natively displayed on the surface of HBV core particles. Such chimeras may not only be useful as vaccines but may also open the way for high resolution structural analyses of nonassembling proteins by electron microscopy. (+info)
Phosphorylation-dependent binding of hepatitis B virus core particles to the nuclear pore complex.
Although many viruses replicate in the nucleus, little is known about the processes involved in the nuclear import of viral genomes. We show here that in vitro generated core particles of human hepatitis B virus bind to nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) in digitonin-permeabilized mammalian cells. This only occurred if the cores contained phosphorylated core proteins. Binding was inhibited by wheat germ agglutinin, by antinuclear pore complex antibodies, and by peptides corresponding either to classical nuclear localization signals (NLS) or to COOH-terminal sequences of the core protein. Binding was dependent on the nuclear transport factors importins (karyopherins) alpha and beta. The results suggested that phosphorylation induces exposure of NLS in the COOH-terminal portion of the core protein that allows core binding to the NPCs by the importin- (karyopherin-) mediated pathway. Thus, phosphorylation of the core protein emerged as an important step in the viral replication cycle necessary for transport of the viral genome to the nucleus. (+info)
Viral clearance without destruction of infected cells during acute HBV infection.
Viral clearance during hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection has been thought to reflect the destruction of infected hepatocytes by CD8(+) T lymphocytes. However, in this study, HBV DNA was shown to largely disappear from the liver and the blood of acutely infected chimpanzees long before the peak of T cell infiltration and most of the liver disease. These results demonstrate that noncytopathic antiviral mechanisms contribute to viral clearance during acute viral hepatitis by purging HBV replicative intermediates from the cytoplasm and covalently closed circular viral DNA from the nucleus of infected cells. (+info)
A recombinant measles virus expressing hepatitis B virus surface antigen induces humoral immune responses in genetically modified mice.
It has been shown previously that measles virus (MV) can be successfully used to express foreign proteins (M. Singh and M. A. Billeter, J. Gen. Virol. 80:101-106, 1998). To develop an inexpensive MV-based vaccine, we generated recombinant MVs that produce structural proteins of hepatitis B virus (HBV). A recombinant virus that expressed the HBV small surface antigen (HBsAg) was analyzed in terms of its replication characteristics, its genetic stability in cell culture, and its immunogenic potential in genetically modified mice. Although this virus showed a progression of replication slightly slower than that of the parental MV, it appeared to stably maintain the added genetic information; it uniformly expressed the appropriately glycosylated HBsAg after 10 serial passages. Genetically modified mice inoculated with this recombinant MV produced humoral immune responses against both HBsAg and MV proteins. (+info)
Detection of core antibody in hepatitis B infection.
Hepatitis B core antigen (HBcAg) is found on the decoated Dane particle and on a morphologically similar particle detected mainly in the nucleus of hepatocytes of patients with hepatitis B. HBcAg prepared from the liver of a chimpanzee infected with hepatitis B virus was used to test human serum for core antibody (anti-HBc) by complement fixation. Anti-HBc was found in serum collected from patients with hepatitis B in both the acute and convalescent stages, from carriers of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and from patients with chronic liver or renal disease who were carriers of HBsAg. It was not found in patients with hepatitis A or infectious mononucleosis, or in healthy persons who were not carriers of HBsAg. (+info)
The mechanism of an immature secretion phenotype of a highly frequent naturally occurring missense mutation at codon 97 of human hepatitis B virus core antigen.
A very frequent missense mutation at codon 97 of human hepatitis B virus (HBV) core antigen (HBcAg) has been found in chronic carriers worldwide. Functional characterization of this mutant revealed one intracellular and two extracellular phenotypes in contrast to wild-type HBV: (i) a 6- to 12-fold decrease in the level of the full-length relaxed circular DNA, a 4- to 5-fold decrease in the plus-strand DNA, and an approximately 1.8-fold decrease in the minus-strand and overall DNA levels in the intracellular viral core particles; (ii) a 5.7-fold increase in the immature secretion of Dane particles, containing minus-strand, single-stranded virion DNA; and (iii) a significant reduction of nonenveloped core particles in the medium. The steady-state levels of mutant and wild-type core proteins expressed from the same vector appeared to be similar. Using a complementation assay and gradient centrifugation analysis, we demonstrated that this mutant core protein alone is necessary and sufficient for immature secretion. The decreased level of intracellular HBV DNA is caused by both the cis defect of the mutant genome and the trans defect of the mutant core protein. We have dissected further the relationship between the intracellular and extracellular phenotypes of mutant F97L. The pleiotropic effects of the HBcAg codon 97 mutation were observed consistently in several different experimental settings. The mechanism and biological significance of these findings are discussed. (+info)
Occult hepatitis B virus infection in patients with chronic hepatitis C liver disease.
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections in patients who lack detectable hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) are called occult infections. Although such infections have been identified in patients with chronic hepatitis C liver disease, their prevalence and clinical significance are not known. METHODS: With the polymerase chain reaction, we searched for HBV DNA in liver and serum samples from 200 HBsAg-negative patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver disease (147 with chronic hepatitis, 48 with cirrhosis, and 5 with minimal histologic changes). One hundred of the patients had detectable antibodies to the HBV core antigen (anti-HBc); 100 were negative for all HBV markers. Eighty-three were treated with interferon alfa. We also studied 50 patients with liver disease who were negative both for HBsAg and for HCV markers. In six patients found to have occult HBV infection, we evaluated possible genomic rearrangements through cloning or direct sequencing procedures. RESULTS: Sixty-six of the 200 patients with chronic hepatitis C liver disease (33 percent) had HBV sequences, as did 7 of the 50 patients with liver disease unrelated to hepatitis C (14 percent, P=0.01). Among the 66 patients, 46 were anti-HBc-positive and 20 were negative for all HBV markers (P<0.001). Twenty-two of these 66 patients (33 percent) had cirrhosis, as compared with 26 of the 134 patients with hepatitis C infection but no HBV sequences (19 percent, P=0.04). HBV sequences were detected in 26 of the 55 patients in whom interferon therapy was ineffective and 7 of the 28 patients in whom interferon therapy was effective (P=0.06). None of the sequenced HBV genomes had changes known to interfere with viral activity and gene expression. CONCLUSIONS: Occult hepatitis B infection occurs frequently in patients with chronic hepatitis C liver disease and may have clinical significance. (+info)