Assays for Hepatitis B Virus DNA-and RNA-Dependent DNA Polymerase Activities
Genomes of the hepatitis B viruses (HBVs) consist of approx 3.2 kb of partly double-stranded DNA containing three or four overlapping open reading frames, the largest of which encodes the viral polymerase (Pol) protein. After entry into the cell and uncoating, the viral genome is transported to the nucleus where it is converted into a covalently closed circular (CCC) or supercoiled molecule by cellular repair mechanisms. The viral CCC DNA is transcribed, presumably by host cell RNA polymerase II, into unspliced, capped polyadenylated mRNA species from which viral proteins are transcribed. In addition, terminally redundant 3.5-kb RNA transcripts, which function as pregenomes, are produced and exported to the cytoplasm where they are packaged into viral core particles in which reverse transcription, pregenome degradation, and duplication occurs, reproducing the partly double-stranded HBV genome (for recent review, see ref. 1). Besides its essential role in HBV genome replication, HBV Pol is also involved in virus assembly, and because hepadnaviruses do not encode enzymes functionally equivalent to deoxynucleoside kinases (2), functions associated with HBV Pol are probably the only virus-specific targets for antiviral activity of nucleoside analogs. In vitro assays for inhibition of HBV Pol functions by deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) analogs are useful indicators but, because of restrictions imposed by hepatocyte enzymology, provide no guarantee of potential anti-HBV activity of the parent (deoxy)nucleoside analogs in intact cells (2).
KeywordsSmall Aliquot Microfuge Tube Core Preparation Cellular Repair Mechanism Phosphonoformic Acid
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