Special Issue "Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions"

A special issue of Cells (ISSN 2073-4409).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Reinhild Prange
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Virology, University Medical Center of the University of Mainz, D-55131 Mainz, Germany
Interests: host-pathogen interactions; hepatitis B viruses; ESCRT machinery; Rab GTPases; autophagy; intracellular trafficking
Dr. Chiaho Shih
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, 11529 Taipei, Taiwan
Interests: Molecular Biology; Viral Hepatitis and Hepatoma; Cancer

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is an enveloped hepadnavirus that can cause acute and chronic liver inflammation. Persistent HBV infections often result in fatal liver failure and globally rank among the most common infectious diseases, as currently approved therapies are limited and noncurative. The extremely successful spread of this pathogen among humans is explained in part by its effective transmission and replication strategies. Due to the very small genome size, HBV is expected to heavily rely on various host cell functions for survival. For entry and egress, the virus is likely to subvert endocytic, secretory, and exocytic membrane trafficking machineries of the hepatocytes. For productive replication and episomal cccDNA formation, the virus must exploit diverse host factors for its intracellular trafficking, DNA metabolism, and formation of mini-chromosomes. For capsid assembly/disassembly and envelopment, participation of host factors is again essential to the formation of various infectious and non-infectious viral and subviral particles. All of these virus–host interactions contribute to viral persistence and pathogenesis. Although some crucial virus–host interactions have been identified and characterized for HBV, even more remain to be revealed. An improved understanding of host functions regulating the different steps in HBV life cycle may form the basis for novel antiviral therapies.

The aim of this Special Issue of Cells is to highlight recent findings that advance our knowledge about how HBV targets host cell pathways to allow productive infection and establish persistence. We welcome submissions of research papers and reviews that focus on HBV virus–host interactions and will cover topics such as:

  • Entry
  • Intracellular trafficking
  • cccDNA, mini-chromosome, and persistence
  • Replication
  • Assembly, morphogenesis, and egress
  • Host-targeting antiviral strategies

Dr. Reinhild Prange
Dr. Chiaho Shih
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Cells is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • entry
  • intracellular trafficking
  • cccDNA
  • mini-chromosome
  • persistence
  • replication
  • assembly
  • morphogenesis
  • egress
  • host-targeting antiviral strategies

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Hepatitis B Core Protein Is Post-Translationally Modified through K29-Linked Ubiquitination
Cells 2020, 9(12), 2547; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9122547 - 26 Nov 2020
Viewed by 695
Abstract
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein (HBc) plays many roles in the HBV life cycle, such as regulation of transcription, RNA encapsidation, reverse transcription, and viral release. To accomplish these functions, HBc interacts with many host proteins and undergoes different post-translational modifications (PTMs). [...] Read more.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein (HBc) plays many roles in the HBV life cycle, such as regulation of transcription, RNA encapsidation, reverse transcription, and viral release. To accomplish these functions, HBc interacts with many host proteins and undergoes different post-translational modifications (PTMs). One of the most common PTMs is ubiquitination, which was shown to change the function, stability, and intracellular localization of different viral proteins, but the role of HBc ubiquitination in the HBV life cycle remains unknown. Here, we found that HBc protein is post-translationally modified through K29-linked ubiquitination. We performed a series of co-immunoprecipitation experiments with wild-type HBc, lysine to arginine HBc mutants and wild-type ubiquitin, single lysine to arginine ubiquitin mutants, or single ubiquitin-accepting lysine constructs. We observed that HBc protein could be modified by ubiquitination in transfected as well as infected hepatoma cells. In addition, ubiquitination predominantly occurred on HBc lysine 7 and the preferred ubiquitin chain linkage was through ubiquitin-K29. Mass spectrometry (MS) analyses detected ubiquitin protein ligase E3 component N-recognin 5 (UBR5) as a potential E3 ubiquitin ligase involved in K29-linked ubiquitination. These findings emphasize that ubiquitination of HBc may play an important role in HBV life cycle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessCommunication
Fast Differentiation of HepaRG Cells Allowing Hepatitis B and Delta Virus Infections
Cells 2020, 9(10), 2288; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9102288 - 14 Oct 2020
Viewed by 661
Abstract
HepaRG cells are liver bipotent progenitors acquiring hepatocytes features when differentiated in the presence of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Differentiated HepaRG (dHepaRG) are considered the best surrogate model to primary human hepatocytes (PHH) and are susceptible to several hepatotropic viruses, including Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) [...] Read more.
HepaRG cells are liver bipotent progenitors acquiring hepatocytes features when differentiated in the presence of dimethylsulfoxide (DMSO). Differentiated HepaRG (dHepaRG) are considered the best surrogate model to primary human hepatocytes (PHH) and are susceptible to several hepatotropic viruses, including Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) and Hepatitis Delta Virus (HDV) infection. Despite these advantages, HepaRG cells are not widely used for the study of these two viruses because of their long differentiation process and their rather low and variable infection rates. Here, we tested the use of a cocktail of five chemicals (5C) combined or not with DMSO to accelerate the cells’ differentiation process. We found that NTCP-mediated HDV entry and replication are similar in HepaRG cells cultivated for only 1 week with 5C and DMSO or differentiated with the regular 4-week protocol. However, even though the NTCP-mediated HBV entry process seemed similar, cccDNA and subsequent HBV replication markers were lower in HepaRG cells cultivated for 1 week with 5C and DMSO compared to the regular differentiation protocol. In conclusion, we set up a new procedure allowing fast differentiation and efficient HDV-infection of HepaRG cells and identified differential culture conditions that may allow to decipher the mechanism behind the establishment of the HBV minichromosome. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
The N-Terminus Makes the Difference: Impact of Genotype-Specific Disparities in the N-Terminal Part of The Hepatitis B Virus Large Surface Protein on Morphogenesis of Viral and Subviral Particles
Cells 2020, 9(8), 1898; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9081898 - 13 Aug 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 713
Abstract
The N-terminus of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) large surface protein (LHB) differs with respect to genotypes. Compared to the amino terminus of genotype (Gt)D, in GtA, GtB and GtC, an additional identical 11 amino acids (aa) are found, while GtE and GtG [...] Read more.
The N-terminus of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) large surface protein (LHB) differs with respect to genotypes. Compared to the amino terminus of genotype (Gt)D, in GtA, GtB and GtC, an additional identical 11 amino acids (aa) are found, while GtE and GtG share another similar 10 aa. Variants of GtB and GtC affecting this N-terminal part are associated with hepatoma formation. Deletion of these amino-terminal 11 aa in GtA reduces the amount of LHBs and changes subcellular accumulation (GtA-like pattern) to a dispersed distribution (GtD-like pattern). Vice versa, the fusion of the GtA-derived N-terminal 11 aa to GtD causes a GtA-like phenotype. However, insertion of the corresponding GtE-derived 10 aa to GtD has no effect. Deletion of these 11aa decreases filament size while neither the number of released viral genomes nor virion size and infectivity are affected. A negative regulatory element (aa 2–8) and a dominant positive regulatory element (aa 9–11) affecting the amount of LHBs were identified. The fusion of this motif to eGFP revealed that the effect on protein amount and subcellular distribution is not restricted to LHBs. These data identify a novel region in the N-terminus of LHBs affecting the amount and subcellular distribution of LHBs and identify release-promoting and -inhibiting aa residues within this motive. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Hepatitis B Virus Exploits ERGIC-53 in Conjunction with COPII to Exit Cells
Cells 2020, 9(8), 1889; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9081889 - 12 Aug 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 838
Abstract
Several decades after its discovery, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) still displays one of the most successful pathogens in human populations worldwide. The identification and characterization of interactions between cellular and pathogenic components are essential for the development of antiviral treatments. Due to [...] Read more.
Several decades after its discovery, the hepatitis B virus (HBV) still displays one of the most successful pathogens in human populations worldwide. The identification and characterization of interactions between cellular and pathogenic components are essential for the development of antiviral treatments. Due to its small-sized genome, HBV highly depends on cellular functions to produce and export progeny particles. Deploying biochemical-silencing methods and molecular interaction studies in HBV-expressing liver cells, we herein identified the cellular ERGIC-53, a high-mannose-specific lectin, and distinct components of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) export machinery COPII as crucial factors of viral trafficking and egress. Whereas the COPII subunits Sec24A, Sec23B and Sar1 are needed for both viral and subviral HBV particle exit, ERGIC-53 appears as an exclusive element of viral particle propagation, therefore interacting with the N146-glycan of the HBV envelope in a productive manner. Cell-imaging studies pointed to ER-derived, subcellular compartments where HBV assembly initiates. Moreover, our findings provide evidence that HBV exploits the functions of ERGIC-53 and Sec24A after the envelopment of nucleocapsids at these compartments in conjunction with endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) components. These data reveal novel insights into HBV assembly and trafficking, illustrating therapeutic prospects for intervening with the viral life cycle. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessArticle
Hepatitis B Virus HBx Protein Mediates the Degradation of Host Restriction Factors through the Cullin 4 DDB1 E3 Ubiquitin Ligase Complex
Cells 2020, 9(4), 834; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9040834 - 30 Mar 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1397
Abstract
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) regulatory HBx protein is required for infection, and its binding to cellular damaged DNA binding protein 1 (DDB1) is critical for this function. DDB1 is an adaptor protein for the cullin 4A Really Interesting New Gene (RING) E3 [...] Read more.
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) regulatory HBx protein is required for infection, and its binding to cellular damaged DNA binding protein 1 (DDB1) is critical for this function. DDB1 is an adaptor protein for the cullin 4A Really Interesting New Gene (RING) E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL4) complex and functions by binding cellular DDB1 cullin associated factor (DCAF) receptor proteins that recruit substrates for ubiquitination and degradation. We compared the proteins found in the CRL4 complex immunoprecipitated from uninfected versus HBV-infected hepatocytes from human liver chimeric mice for insight into mechanisms by which HBV and the cell interact within the CRL4 complex. Consistent with its role as a viral DCAF, HBx was found in the HBV CRL4 complexes. In tissue culture transfection experiments, we showed that HBx expression led to decreased levels of known restriction factor structural maintenance of chromosomes protein 6 (SMC6) and putative restriction factors stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1, zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2 (ZEB2), and proteasome activator subunit 4 (PSME4). Moreover, silencing of these proteins led to increased HBV replication in the HepG2-sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) infection model. We also identified cellular DCAF receptors in CRL4 complexes from humanized mice. Increasing amounts of HBx did not reveal competitive DCAF binding to cullin4 (CUL4)-DDB1 in plasmid-transfected cells. Our results suggest a model in which HBx benefits virus replication by directly or indirectly degrading multiple cellular restriction factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Virion Secretion of Hepatitis B Virus Naturally Occurring Core Antigen Variants
Cells 2021, 10(1), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells10010043 - 30 Dec 2020
Viewed by 725
Abstract
In natural infection, hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein (HBc) accumulates frequent mutations. The most frequent HBc variant in chronic hepatitis B patients is mutant 97L, changing from an isoleucine or phenylalanine to a leucine (L) at HBc amino acid 97. One dogma [...] Read more.
In natural infection, hepatitis B virus (HBV) core protein (HBc) accumulates frequent mutations. The most frequent HBc variant in chronic hepatitis B patients is mutant 97L, changing from an isoleucine or phenylalanine to a leucine (L) at HBc amino acid 97. One dogma in the HBV research field is that wild type HBV secretes predominantly virions containing mature double-stranded DNA genomes. Immature genomes, containing single-stranded RNA or DNA, do not get efficiently secreted until reaching genome maturity. Interestingly, HBc variant 97L does not follow this dogma in virion secretion. Instead, it exhibits an immature secretion phenotype, which preferentially secretes virions containing immature genomes. Other aberrant behaviors in virion secretion were also observed in different naturally occurring HBc variants. A hydrophobic pocket around amino acid 97 was identified by bioinformatics, genetic analysis, and cryo-EM. We postulated that this hydrophobic pocket could mediate the transduction of the genome maturation signal for envelopment from the capsid interior to its surface. Virion morphogenesis must involve interactions between HBc, envelope proteins (HBsAg) and host factors, such as components of ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport). Immature secretion can be offset by compensatory mutations, occurring at other positions in HBc or HBsAg. Recently, we demonstrated in mice that the persistence of intrahepatic HBV DNA is related to virion secretion regulated by HBV genome maturity. HBV virion secretion could be an antiviral drug target. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessReview
New Insights on Molecular Mechanism of Hepatitis B Virus Covalently Closed Circular DNA Formation
Cells 2020, 9(11), 2430; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9112430 - 06 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1020
Abstract
The chronic factor of the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), specifically the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), is a highly stable and active viral episomal genome established in the livers of chronic hepatitis B patients as a constant source of disease. Being able to [...] Read more.
The chronic factor of the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), specifically the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), is a highly stable and active viral episomal genome established in the livers of chronic hepatitis B patients as a constant source of disease. Being able to target and eliminate cccDNA is the end goal for a genuine cure for HBV. Yet how HBV cccDNA is formed from the viral genomic relaxed circular DNA (rcDNA) and by what host factors had been long-standing research questions. It is generally acknowledged that HBV hijacks cellular functions to turn the open circular DNA conformation of rcDNA into cccDNA through DNA repair mechanisms. With great efforts from the HBV research community, there have been several recent leaps in our understanding of cccDNA formation. It is our goal in this review to analyze the recent reports showing evidence of cellular factor’s involvement in the molecular pathway of cccDNA biosynthesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessReview
Interplay between Cellular Autophagy and Hepatitis B Virus Replication: A Systematic Review
Cells 2020, 9(9), 2101; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9092101 - 15 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 872
Abstract
Autophagy, a conserved process in which cells break down and destroy old, damaged, or abnormal proteins and other substances in the cytoplasm through lysosomal degradation, occurs via autophagosome formation and aids in the maintenance of intracellular homeostasis. Autophagy is closely associated with hepatitis [...] Read more.
Autophagy, a conserved process in which cells break down and destroy old, damaged, or abnormal proteins and other substances in the cytoplasm through lysosomal degradation, occurs via autophagosome formation and aids in the maintenance of intracellular homeostasis. Autophagy is closely associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and assembly. Currently, HBV infection is still one of the most serious public health issues worldwide. The unavailability of satisfactory therapeutic strategies for chronic HBV infection indicates an urgent need to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of HBV infection. Increasing evidence has shown that HBV not only possesses the ability to induce incomplete autophagy but also evades autophagic degradation, indicating that HBV utilizes or hijacks the autophagy machinery for its own replication. Therefore, autophagy might be a crucial target pathway for controlling HBV infection. The definite molecular mechanisms underlying the association between cellular autophagy and HBV replication require further clarification. In this review, we have summarized and discussed the latest findings on the interplay between autophagy and HBV replication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessReview
Association of the Hepatitis B Virus Large Surface Protein with Viral Infectivity and Endoplasmic Reticulum Stress-mediated Liver Carcinogenesis
Cells 2020, 9(9), 2052; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9092052 - 08 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 745
Abstract
Hepatitis B is the most prevalent viral hepatitis worldwide, affecting approximately one-third of the world’s population. Among HBV factors, the surface protein is the most sensitive biomarker for viral infection, given that it is expressed at high levels in all viral infection phases. [...] Read more.
Hepatitis B is the most prevalent viral hepatitis worldwide, affecting approximately one-third of the world’s population. Among HBV factors, the surface protein is the most sensitive biomarker for viral infection, given that it is expressed at high levels in all viral infection phases. The large HBV surface protein (LHBs) contains the integral pre-S1 domain, which binds to the HBV receptor sodium taurocholate co transporting polypeptide on the hepatocyte to facilitate viral entry. The accumulation of viral LHBs and its prevalent pre-S mutants in chronic HBV carriers triggers a sustained endoplasmic reticulum (ER) overload response, leading to ER stress-mediated cell proliferation, metabolic switching and genomic instability, which are associated with pro-oncogenic effects. Ground glass hepatocytes identified in HBV-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients harbor pre-S deletion variants that largely accumulate in the ER lumen due to mutation-induced protein misfolding and are associated with increased risks of cancer recurrence and metastasis. Moreover, in contrast to the major HBs, which is decreased in tumors to a greater extent than it is in peritumorous regions, LHBs is continuously expressed during tumorigenesis, indicating that LHBs serves as a promising biomarker for HCC in people with CHB. Continuing efforts to delineate the molecular mechanisms by which LHBs regulates pathological changes in CHB patients are important for establishing a correlation between LHBs biomarkers and HCC development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessReview
Intracellular Trafficking of HBV Particles
Cells 2020, 9(9), 2023; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9092023 - 02 Sep 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1040
Abstract
The human hepatitis B virus (HBV), that is causative for more than 240 million cases of chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis), is an enveloped virus with a partially double-stranded DNA genome. After virion uptake by receptor-mediated endocytosis, the viral nucleocapsid is transported towards the [...] Read more.
The human hepatitis B virus (HBV), that is causative for more than 240 million cases of chronic liver inflammation (hepatitis), is an enveloped virus with a partially double-stranded DNA genome. After virion uptake by receptor-mediated endocytosis, the viral nucleocapsid is transported towards the nuclear pore complex. In the nuclear basket, the nucleocapsid disassembles. The viral genome that is covalently linked to the viral polymerase, which harbors a bipartite NLS, is imported into the nucleus. Here, the partially double-stranded DNA genome is converted in a minichromosome-like structure, the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). The DNA virus HBV replicates via a pregenomic RNA (pgRNA)-intermediate that is reverse transcribed into DNA. HBV-infected cells release apart from the infectious viral parrticle two forms of non-infectious subviral particles (spheres and filaments), which are assembled by the surface proteins but lack any capsid and nucleic acid. In addition, naked capsids are released by HBV replicating cells. Infectious viral particles and filaments are released via multivesicular bodies; spheres are secreted by the classic constitutive secretory pathway. The release of naked capsids is still not fully understood, autophagosomal processes are discussed. This review describes intracellular trafficking pathways involved in virus entry, morphogenesis and release of (sub)viral particles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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Open AccessReview
N-Glycosylation and N-Glycan Processing in HBV Biology and Pathogenesis
Cells 2020, 9(6), 1404; https://doi.org/10.3390/cells9061404 - 04 Jun 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1161
Abstract
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) glycobiology has been an area of intensive research in the last decades and continues to be an attractive topic due to the multiple roles that N-glycosylation in particular plays in the virus life-cycle and its interaction with the host [...] Read more.
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) glycobiology has been an area of intensive research in the last decades and continues to be an attractive topic due to the multiple roles that N-glycosylation in particular plays in the virus life-cycle and its interaction with the host that are still being discovered. The three HBV envelope glycoproteins, small (S), medium (M) and large (L) share a very peculiar N-glycosylation pattern, which distinctly regulates their folding, degradation, assembly, intracellular trafficking and antigenic properties. In addition, recent findings indicate important roles of N-linked oligosaccharides in viral pathogenesis and evasion of the immune system surveillance. This review focuses on N-glycosylation’s contribution to HBV infection and disease, with implications for development of improved vaccines and antiviral therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hepatitis B Virus and Host Interactions)
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