Although the unique mechanism by which hepatitis B virus (HBV) polymerase primes reverse transcription is now well-characterized, the subsequent elongation process remains poorly understood. Reverse transcriptase (RT)-RNase H sequences from polymerase amino acid 304 (the C-terminal part of spacer domain) to 843 were expressed in Escherichia coli and purified partially. RT elongation activity was investigated using the fluorescent-tagged primer and homopolymeric RNA templates. RT elongation activity depended on both Mg2+ and Mn2+, and had low affinity for purine deoxynucleotides, which may be related with the success of adefovir, tenofovir, and entecavir. However, the polymerization rate was lower than that of human immunodeficiency virus RT. All HBV genotypes displayed similar RT activity, except for genotype B, which demonstrated increased elongation activity.
Keywords: Hepatitis B virus; Primer elongation; Reverse transcriptase.
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