Jefferson Center for Biomedical Research and Agricultural Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, USA
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a human pathogen, causing the serious liver disease. Despite considerable advances in the understanding of the natural history of HBV disease, most of the early steps in the virus life cycle remain unclear. Virus attachment to permissive cells, fusion and penetration through cell membranes and subsequent genome release, are largely a mystery. Current knowledge on the early steps of HBV life cycle has mostly come from molecular cloning, expression of individual genes and studies of the infection of duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) with duck primary duck hepatocytes. However, considering of the difference of the surface protein of HBV and DHBV both in the composition and sequence, the degree to which information from DHBV applies to human HBV attachment and entry may be limited. A major obstacle to the study HBV infection is the lack of a reliable and sensitive in vitro infection system. We have found that the digestion of HBV and woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHBV) by protease V8 led to the infection of HepG2 cell, a cell line generally is refractory for their infection [Lu et al. J Virol. 1996. 70. 2277-2285. Lu et al. Virus Research. 2001. 73(1): 27-4]. Further studies showed that a serine protease inhibitor Kazal (SPIK) was over expressed in the HepG2 cells. Therefore, it is possible that to silence the over expressed SPIK and thus to reinstate the activity of indispensable cellular proteases can result in the restoration of the susceptibility of HepG2 cells for HBV infection. The establishing a stable cell line for study of the early steps of HBV life cycle by silencing of SPIK is discussed.
Keywords: Hepatitis B virus, Fusion, Serine protease inhibitor, Receptor, Attachment.