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J Virol. 1990 Jul;64(7):3249-58.

Efficient duck hepatitis B virus production by an avian liver tumor cell line.

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  • 1Fox Chase Cancer Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19111.


Duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) is produced in small amounts following transfection of human hepatoma or hepatoblastoma cell lines with cloned viral DNA. In a search for better hosts for DHBV replication, two avian liver cell lines were investigated. One of these cell lines, LMH, produced 5 to 10 times more DNA replicative intermediates and 10 to 20 times more infectious DHBV than did either of the two human cell lines, HuH-7 and Hep G2. Utilization of cell lines in genetic analyses of virus replication is often dependent upon obtaining efficient complementation between cotransfected viral genomes. We assayed transcomplementation of a viral polymerase (pol) gene mutant, which is rather inefficient in transfected human cells, and found that viral DNA synthesis was at least 20 times more efficient following cotransfection of LMH cells than in similarly transfected HuH-7 cells. Recombination, a potential interpretation problem in complementation assays, occurred at low levels in the cotransfected cultures but was substantially reduced or eliminated by creation of an LMH subline stably expressing the viral polymerase. This cell line, pol-7, supported the replication of DHBV pol mutants at ca. 10 to 15% of the level of virus replication obtained following transfection with wild-type viral DNA. By transcomplementation of a pol gene mutant in LMH cells, we were able to produce sufficient virus with the mutant genome to investigate the role of polymerase in covalently closed circular DNA amplification. Our results substantiate the hypothesis that covalently closed circular DNA is synthesized by the viral reverse transcriptase.

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