APOBEC3B edits HBV DNA and inhibits HBV replication during reverse transcription

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Hepatitis B virus is a partially double-stranded DNA virus that replicates by reverse transcription, which occurs within viral core particles in the cytoplasm. The cytidine deaminase APOBEC3B is a cellular restriction factor for HBV. Recently, it was reported that APOBEC3B can edit HBV cccDNA in the nucleus, causing its degradation. However, whether and how it can edit HBV core-associated DNAs during reverse transcription is unclear. Our studies to address this question revealed the following: First, silencing endogenous APOBEC3B in an HBV infection system lead to upregulation of HBV replication. Second, APOBEC3B can inhibit replication of HBV isolates from genotypes (gt) A, B, C, and D as determined by employing transfection of plasmids expressing isolates from four different HBV genotypes. For HBV inhibition, APOBEC3B-mediated inhibition of replication primarily depends on the C-terminal active site of APOBEC3B. In addition, employing the HBV RNaseH-deficient D702A mutant and a polymerase-deficient YMHA mutant, we demonstrated that APOBEC3B can edit both the HBV minus- and plus-strand DNAs, but not the pregenomic RNA in core particles. Furthermore, we found by co-immunoprecipitation assays that APOBEC3B can interact with HBV core protein in an RNA-dependent manner. Our results provide evidence that APOBEC3B can interact with HBV core protein and edit HBV DNAs during reverse transcription. These data suggest that APOBEC3B exerts multifaceted antiviral effects against HBV.

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