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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1997 Mar 4;94(5):1822-7.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) envelope glycoproteins vary drastically in their sensitivity to glycan processing: evidence that alteration of a single N-linked glycosylation site can regulate HBV secretion.

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  • 1The Glycobiology Institute, Department of Biochemistry, Oxford University, United Kingdom.


The role of N-linked glycosylation and glycan trimming in the function of glycoproteins remains a central question in biology. Hepatitis B virus specifies three glycoproteins (L, M, and S) that are derived from alternate translation of the same ORF. All three glycoproteins contain a common N-glycosylation site in the S domain while M possesses an additional N-glycosylation site at its amino terminus. In the presence of N-butyl-deoxnojirimycin (an inhibitor of alpha-glucosidase) virions and the M protein are surprisingly retained. Preliminary evidence suggests that the retained M protein is hyperglucosylated and localized to lysosomal vesicles. In contrast, the S and L proteins are secreted, and their glycosylation state is unaffected by the presence of the inhibitor. Site-directed mutagenesis provides evidence that virion secretion requires the glycosylation sequon in the pre-S2 domain of M. This highlights the potential role of the M protein oligosaccharide as a therapeutic target.

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