Novel recombinant hepatitis B virus vectors efficiently deliver protein and RNA encoding genes into primary hepatocytes

J Virol. 2013 Jun;87(12):6615-24. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03328-12. Epub 2013 Apr 3.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) has extremely restricted host and hepatocyte tropism. HBV-based vectors could form the basis of novel therapies for chronic hepatitis B and other liver diseases and would also be invaluable for the study of HBV infection. Previous attempts at developing HBV-based vectors encountered low yields of recombinant viruses and/or lack of sufficient infectivity/cargo gene expression in primary hepatocytes, which hampered follow-up applications. In this work, we constructed a novel vector based on a naturally occurring, highly replicative HBV mutant with a 207-bp deletion in the preS1/polymerase spacer region. By applying a novel insertion strategy that preserves the continuity of the polymerase open reading frame (ORF), recombinant HBV (rHBV) carrying protein or small interfering RNA (siRNA) genes were obtained that replicated and were packaged efficiently in cultured hepatocytes. We demonstrated that rHBV expressing a fluorescent reporter (DsRed) is highly infective in primary tree shrew hepatocytes, and rHBV expressing HBV-targeting siRNA successfully inhibited antigen expression from coinfected wild-type HBV. This novel HBV vector will be a powerful tool for hepatocyte-targeting gene delivery, as well as the study of HBV infection.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Transfer Techniques*
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Hepatitis B
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / genetics
  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis B virus / metabolism
  • Hepatitis B virus / pathogenicity*
  • Hepatocytes / virology*
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Proteins / genetics
  • Luminescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Mutation
  • Protein Precursors / genetics
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Tupaiidae*
  • Virus Replication


  • Hepatitis B Surface Antigens
  • Luminescent Proteins
  • Protein Precursors
  • fluorescent protein 583
  • presurface protein 1, hepatitis B surface antigen