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Chimeras of Duck and Heron Hepatitis B Viruses Provide Evidence for Functional Interactions between Viral Components of Pregenomic RNA Encapsidation

American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
  • Replication
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Packaging of hepadnavirus pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) into capsids, or encapsidation, requires several viral components. The viral polymerase (P) and the capsid subunit (C) are necessary for pgRNA encapsidation. Previous studies of duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) indicated that two cis-acting sequences on pgRNA are required for encapsidation: ɛ, which is near the 5′ end of pgRNA, and region II, located near the middle of pgRNA. Later studies suggested that the intervening sequence between these two elements may also make a contribution. It has been demonstrated for DHBV that ɛ interacts with P to facilitate encapsidation, but it is not known how other cis-acting sequences contribute to encapsidation. We analyzed chimeras of DHBV and a related virus, heron hepatitis B virus (HHBV), to gain insight into the interactions between the various viral components during pgRNA encapsidation. We learned that having ɛ and P derived from the same virus was not sufficient for high levels of encapsidation, implying that other viral interactions contribute to encapsidation. Chimeric analysis showed that a large sequence containing region II may interact with P and/or C for efficient encapsidation. Further analysis demonstrated that possibly an RNA-RNA interaction between the intervening sequence and region II facilitates pgRNA encapsidation. Together, these results identify functional interactions among various viral components that contribute to pgRNA encapsidation.

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