Understanding the consequences of mutation in the tyrosine-methionine-aspartate-aspartate (YMDD) motif of hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome on replication is critical for treating chronic hepatitis B with lamivudine. Allele-specific gene silencing by RNAi (allele-specific RNAi: ASP-RNAi) is an advanced application of RNAi techniques. Use of this strategy as a means for specifically inhibiting an allele expression of interest suggested that it can specifically suppress the expression of alleles causing disease without inhibiting the expression of corresponding wild-type alleles. However, no studies have used ASP-RNAi to address the issue of HBV lamivudine resistance. In this study, we applied ASP-RNAi into two long-term eukaryotic cell lines of full-length HBV containing either lamivudine-resistant mutants (HBV-YIDD) or wild type (HBV-WT) which we generated in previously. The designed siRNAs were also used in this eukaryotic expression system together with lamivudine. ELISA and real-time PCR were performed to monitor virus-specific protein synthesis and viral DNA replication. The results showed that the base substitutions conferring marked ASP-RNAi appeared to be largely present in positions 1, 3, 6, 11, 12, 15 and 19 of the sense strand of siRNAs which were different from the most sensitive positions of this application in eukaryotes. In addition, siRNA-lamivudine combinations did not possess the prominent anti-HBV activity we expected because of some unknown mechanisms. These findings recapitulated many of the features of ASP-RNAi in hepadnaviruses which provided a new insight into the development of a potent strategy against HBV drug resistance.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.