Influences on hepatitis B virus replication by a naturally occurring mutation in the core gene.

PMID 17498766


Little is known about specific naturally occurring mutations of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and underlying mechanisms of their association with fulminant hepatitis. A HBV clone isolated from a patient with fulminant hepatitis was analyzed, and the features of the particular mutations observed around furin cleavage site in core region (A2339G/G2345A) were assessed using an in vitro replication model. The clone belonged to genotype B with precore stop codon mutation (G1896A). Replication efficiency of 1.24-fold HBV genome in Huh-7 cells was increased in the presence of A2339G. Further in vitro studies using furin inhibitor indicated that the effect of the mutation was probably associated with accumulation of the full-length core protein without cleavage by furin-like protease, suggesting that a processing of the core protein might play an important role in regulation of viral replication. In conclusion, the A2339G mutation was considered as one of the viral factors involved in high replication efficiency.