Capsids of hepatitis B virus e antigen with authentic C termini are stabilized by electrostatic interactions

FEBS Lett. 2020 Mar;594(6):1052-1061. doi: 10.1002/1873-3468.13706. Epub 2019 Dec 16.


The hepatitis B virus e antigen, an alternative transcript of the core gene, is a secreted protein that maintains viral persistence. The physiological form has extended C termini relative to Cp(-10)149, the construct used in many studies. To examine the role of the C termini, we expressed the constructs Cp(-10)151 and Cp(-10)154, which have additional arginine residues. Both constructs when treated with reductant formed capsids more efficiently than Cp(-10)149. These capsids were also substantially more stable, as measured by thermal denaturation and resistance to urea dissociation. Mutagenesis suggests that electrostatic interactions between the additional arginine residues and glutamate residues on adjacent subunits play a role in the extra stabilization. These findings have implications for the physiological role and biotechnological potential of this protein.

Keywords: HBeAg; conformational rearrangement; e antigen; encapsidation; furin cleavage; hepatitis B virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Capsid / chemistry*
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens / chemistry*
  • Hepatitis B e Antigens / genetics
  • Hepatitis B virus / chemistry*
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics
  • Mutagenesis
  • Protein Domains
  • Static Electricity


  • Hepatitis B e Antigens