Prolonged replication of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in liver tissues of hepatitis B patients has been considered as an important risk factor for the development of malignancy. Few studies on full-length HBV sequencing in association with the replication efficiency of isolates from HCC tissues have been reported. To study the structural and functional genomics of HBV isolates from Chinese hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients, full-length HBV genomes were amplified from 6 HBV-marker positive HCC tissues and used to transfect HepG2 cells. Five of 6 isolates showed high replicative efficiency. All isolates were of genotype C and "hot-spots" mutations were detected in the B cell and T helper (Th) cell epitopes of the envelope and the core region. In addition, the X region of 2 isolates contained a stop-codon mutation that was predicted to result in a truncated X protein. High replicative HBV immune escape mutants that persist in infected hepatocytes could be 1 of the important factors to initiate pathological processes for the development of HCC in Chinese patients.
Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.