The tripartite motif (TRIM) protein family is an E3 ubiquitin ligase family. Recent reports have indicated that some TRIM proteins have antiviral functions, especially against retroviruses. However, most studies mainly focus on the relationship between TRIM21 and interferon or other antiviral effectors. The effect of TRIM21 on virus-encoded proteins remains unclear. In this study, we screened candidate interacting proteins of HBV DNA polymerase (Pol) by FLAG affinity purification and mass spectrometry assay and identified TRIM21 as its regulator. We used a coimmunoprecipitation (co-IP) assay to demonstrate that TRIM21 interacted with the TP domain of HBV DNA Pol. In addition, TRIM21 promoted the ubiquitination and degradation of HBV DNA Pol using its RING domain, which has E3 ubiquitin ligase activity. Lys260 and Lys283 of HBV DNA Pol were identified as targets for ubiquitination mediated by TRIM21. Finally, we uncovered that TRIM21 degrades HBV DNA Pol to restrict HBV DNA replication, and its SPRY domain is critical for this activity. Taken together, our results indicate that TRIM21 suppresses HBV DNA replication mainly by promoting the ubiquitination of HBV DNA Pol, which may provide a new potential target for the treatment of HBV.
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