Pre-S mutations of hepatitis B virus affect genome replication and expression of surface antigens

Beom Kyung Kim, Sung Hoon Choi, Sung Hyun Ahn, Ae Ri Chung, Yong Kwang Park, Kwang Hyub Han, Seungtaek Kim, Hyon Suk Kim, Jeon Han Park, Kyung Sik Kim, Hee Seung Lee, Yong Sang Cho, Kyun Hwan Kim, Sang Hoon Ahn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Backgrounds and Aims: In chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, quantitative HBV surface antigen (qHBsAg) is useful for monitoring viral replication and treatment responses. We aimed to determine whether pre-S mutations have any effect on circulating qHBsAg. Methods: Plasmids expressing 1-8 amino acid deletion in pre-S1 ("pre-S1Δ1-8") and 3-25 amino acid deletion in pre-S2 ("pre-S2Δ3-25") were constructed. At 72h post-transfection into Huh7 cells, qHBsAg were measured using electrochemiluminescence immunoassay analyzer. To mimic milieus of quasispecies, we co-transfected either pre-S1Δ1-8 or pre-S2Δ3-25 with wild type (WT). Results: Pre-S mutations affected transcription and replication ability of HBV because of altered overlapping polymerase. Compared with WT, extracellular qHBsAg in pre-S1Δ1-8 and pre-S2Δ3-25 were on average 3.87-fold higher and 0.92-fold lower, respectively, whereas intracellular qHBsAg in pre-S1Δ1-8 and pre-S2Δ3-25 were 0.57-fold lower and 1.60-fold higher, respectively. Immunofluorescence staining of cellular HBsAg showed that pre-S1Δ1-8 had less staining and that pre-S2Δ3-25 had denser staining. As ratios of either pre-S1Δ1-8 or pre-S2Δ3-25:WT increased from 0:10 to 10:0 gradually, relative extracellular qHBsAg increased from 1.0 to 3.85 in pre-S1Δ1-8 co-transfection, whereas those decreased from 1.0 to 0.88 in pre-S2Δ3-25 co-transfection. Conclusion: Pre-S mutations exhibit different phenotypes of genome replication and HBsAg expression according to their locations. Thus, qHBsAg level for diagnosis and prognostification in chronic HBV infection should be used more cautiously, considering emergences of pre-S deletion mutants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)843-850
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology (Australia)
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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