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A substitution in the pre-S1 promoter region is associated with the viral regulation of hepatitis B virus

Ogura, Suguru, Tameda, Masahiko, Sugimoto, Kazushi, Ikejiri, Makoto, Usui, Masanobu, Ito, Masaaki, Takei, Yoshiyuki
Virology journal 2019 v.16 no.1 pp. 59
DNA, Hepatitis B virus, disease course, enzyme activity, genetic vectors, genotype, human cell lines, luciferase, messenger RNA, mutation, patients, promoter regions, protein synthesis, viral load, virion, viruses
BACKGROUND: Much evidence has demonstrated the influence of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) mutations on the clinical course of HBV infection. As large (L) protein plays a crucial role for viral entry, we hypothesized that mutations in the pre-S1 promoter region might affect the expression of L protein and subsequently change the biological characters of virus. METHODS: Patients infected with genotype C HBV were enrolled for analysis. HBV DNA sequences were inserted into a TA cloning vector and analyzed. To evaluate the effects of mutations in the pre-S1 promoter region, promoter activity and the expression of mRNA and L protein were analyzed using HepG2 cells. RESULTS: In total, 35 patients were enrolled and 13 patients (37.1%) had a single base substitution in the pre-S1 promoter region; the most frequent substitution was a G-to-A substitution at the 2765th base (G2765A) in the Sp1 region. The HBV viral load showed a negative correlation with the substitution ratio of the Sp1 region or G2765A (r = − 0.493 and − 0.473, respectively). Among those with a viral load ≤5.0 log IU/ml, patients with the G2765A substitution showed a significantly lower HBV viral load than those with the wild-type sequence. HepG2 cells transfected with the G2765A substitution vector showed reduced luciferase activity of the pre-S1 promoter, as well as reduced expression of pre-S1 mRNA and L protein. Furthermore, the G2765A substitution greatly reduced the L protein expression level of vector-produced virus particles. CONCLUSION: G2765A substitution in the pre-S1 promoter reduced the expression of L protein and resulted in a low viral load and less severe disease in chronic HBV infections.