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PLoS One. 2014 Oct 22;9(10):e110442. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0110442. eCollection 2014.

Transcription of hepatitis B virus covalently closed circular DNA is regulated by CpG methylation during chronic infection.

Author information

1
Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.
2
Institute for Biotechnology and Virology Research, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Drexel University College of Medicine, Doylestown, Pennsylvania, United States of America.
3
Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China; Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Virology (MOH & MOE), Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

Abstract

The persistence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is maintained by the nuclear viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), which serves as transcription template for viral mRNAs. Previous studies suggested that cccDNA contains methylation-prone CpG islands, and that the minichromosome structure of cccDNA is epigenetically regulated by DNA methylation. However, the regulatory effect of each CpG island methylation on cccDNA activity remains elusive. In the present study, we analyzed the distribution of CpG methylation within cccDNA in patient samples and investigated the impact of CpG island methylation on cccDNA-driven virus replication. Our study revealed the following observations: 1) Bisulfite sequencing of cccDNA from chronic hepatitis B patients indicated that CpG island I was seldom methylated, 2) CpG island II methylation was correlated to the low level of serum HBV DNA in patients, and in vitro methylation studies confirmed that CpG island II methylation markedly reduced cccDNA transcription and subsequent viral core DNA replication, 3) CpG island III methylation was associated with low serum HBsAg titers, and 4) Furthermore, we found that HBV genotype, HBeAg positivity, and patient age and liver fibrosis stage were also relevant to cccDNA CpG methylation status. Therefore, we clearly demonstrated that the status of cccDNA methylation is connected to the biological behavior of HBV. Taken together, our study provides a complete profile of CpG island methylation within HBV cccDNA and new insights for the function of CpG methylation in regulating HBV cccDNA transcription.

PMID:
25337821
PMCID:
PMC4206413
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0110442
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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