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EMBO J. 1987 Mar;6(3):675-80.

Production of hepatitis B virus in vitro by transient expression of cloned HBV DNA in a hepatoma cell line.


Transfection of human hepatoma cell lines with cloned HBV DNA resulted in the secretion of large amounts of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and core-related antigens (HBc/HBeAg) if well-differentiated cell lines were employed. Synthesis of both viral antigens was the highest in cell line HuH-7 and continued for approximately 25 days. Particles resembling hepatitis B virions (Dane particles) by morphology, density and by the presence of the preS1 surface antigen were released from the transfected HuH-7 cells into the culture medium. These particles produced in vitro were also indistinguishable from the naturally occurring hepatitis B virions in containing the virus-associated DNA polymerase and mature HBV genomes. Restriction analysis of these DNA molecules was compatible with the nucleotide sequence of the transfecting HBV DNA sequence. Viral surface antigens and core proteins present in the culture medium were fractionated and characterized by immunoprecipitation and SDS--PAGE after labeling with [35S]methionine. Antisera specific for X-gene products identified in cell extracts two hitherto unknown HBV gene products. This system thus provides a new approach to open questions regarding HBV-related gene function and HBV replication.

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