HBx, a small regulatory protein of hepatitis B virus (HBV), augments viral DNA replication by stimulating viral transcription. Among numerous reported HBx-binding proteins, DDB1 has drawn attention, because DDB1 acts as a substrate receptor of the Cul4-DDB1 ubiquitin E3 ligase. Previous work reported that the DDB1-HBx interaction is indispensable for HBx-stimulated viral DNA replication, suggesting that the Cul4-DDB1 ubiquitin E3 ligase might target cellular restriction factors for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. To gain further insight into the DDB1-HBx interaction, we generated HBx mutants deficient for DDB1 binding (i.e., R96A, L98A, and G99A) and examined whether they support HBx-stimulated viral DNA replication. In contrast to data from previous reports, our results showed that the HBx mutants deficient for DDB1 binding supported viral DNA replication to nearly wild-type levels, revealing that the DDB1-HBx interaction is largely dispensable for HBx-stimulated viral DNA replication. Instead, we found that DDB1 directly stimulates viral transcription regardless of HBx expression. Through an HBV infection study, importantly, we demonstrated that DDB1 stimulates viral transcription from covalently closed circular DNA, a physiological template for viral transcription. Overall, we concluded that DDB1 stimulates viral transcription via a mechanism that does not involve an interaction with HBx.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science