The C-terminal domain (CTD) of hepadnavirus core protein is involved in multiple steps of viral replication. In particular, the CTD is initially phosphorylated at multiple sites to facilitate viral RNA packaging into immature nucleocapsids (NCs) and the early stage of viral DNA synthesis. For the avian hepadnavirus duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV), CTD is dephosphorylated subsequently to facilitate the late stage of viral DNA synthesis and to stabilize NCs containing mature viral DNA. The role of CTD phosphorylation in virion secretion, if any, has remained unclear. Here, the CTD from the human hepatitis B virus (HBV) was found to be dephosphorylated in association with NC maturation and secretion of DNA-containing virions, as in DHBV. In contrast, the CTD in empty HBV virions (i.e., enveloped capsids with no RNA or DNA) was found to be phosphorylated. The potential role of CTD dephosphorylation in virion secretion was analyzed through mutagenesis. For secretion of empty HBV virions, which is independent of either viral RNA packaging or DNA synthesis, multiple substitutions in the CTD to mimic either phosphorylation or dephosphorylation showed little detrimental effect. Similarly, phospho-mimetic substitutions in the DHBV CTD did not block the secretion of DNA-containing virions. These results indicate that CTD dephosphorylation, though associated with NC maturation in both HBV and DHBV, is not essential for the subsequent NC-envelope interaction to secrete DNA-containing virions, and the CTD state of phosphorylation also does not play an essential role in the interaction between empty capsids and the envelope for secretion of empty virions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science