Expression of squamous cell carcinoma antigen-1 in liver enhances the uptake of hepatitis B virus envelope-derived bio-nanocapsules in transgenic rats

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We previously developed the bio-nanocapsule, which consists of hepatitis B virus envelope L proteins. The bio-nanocapsule can be used to deliver genes and drugs specifically to the human liver-derived tissues in xenograft models, presumably by utilizing the human liver-specific mechanism of hepatitis B virus infection. The hepatitis B virus tropism is highly restricted to humans and higher primates. Thus, to evaluate the in vivo therapeutic effects of forthcoming bio-nanocapsule-based medicines, it will be crucial to develop an animal model whose liver is susceptible to both bio-nanocapsule and hepatitis B virus. In the present study, we aimed to establish a bio-nanocapsule-susceptible animal model using transgenic rats expressing squamous cell carcinoma antigen-1 (SCCA1), which has been proposed to be a receptor for hepatitis B virus, interacting with the hepatitis B virus envelope protein and enhancing the cellular uptake of hepatitis B virus. We show that the recombinant SCCA1 protein interacts directly with bio-nanocapsule and inhibits its attachment to the cultured human liver-derived cells. Furthermore, we have established a transgenic rat that specifically expresses SCCA1 in the liver and also demonstrate that the amount of bio-nanocapsule accumulated in the liver is significantly increased by the SCCA1 expression. Histological analysis suggests that bio-nanocapsule is preferentially incorporated into the SCCA1-expressing hepatocytes but not into macrophages, such as Küppfer cells, nor into endothelial cells. Therefore, this animal model is expected to be useful for the development of bio-nanocapsule-based medicines.

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