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Mol Cell Biochem. 1979 Jul 15;26(1):47-67.

The hepatitis B virus and its DNA polymerase: the prototype three-D virus.


The hepatitis B virus (HBV), the causal agent of serum hepatitis, has a diameter of 42 nm and is comprised of an outer surface coat and a 27 nm core. A unique DNA-dependent DNA polymerase is associated with the core of the virus. The core also houses a circular DNA that contains both double-stranded and single-stranded regions. In the endogenous reaction, the DNA polymerase repairs the single-stranded gaps of the viral DNA. The surface protein of the virus, called hepatitis B surface antigen, contains both lipid and carbohydrate, and is often present in particulate form in the blood of infected patients. In Asia and Africa HBV infection is associated with subsequent development of primary hepatocellular carcinoma. Although most patients recover completely from acute illness, the hepatitis B virus may cause chronic infection. Recently, a virus similar to human HBV was discovered in woodchucks. HBV has not yet been propagated in a cell culture system and the mode of replication of this unusual virus in hepatocytes is still moot. Although reliable therapy has not yet been provided, the problem of this world-wide infection has led to many interesting approaches to both vaccine production and anti-viral chemotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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