The cytidine deaminase apolipoprotein B mRNA editing catalytic subunit-3 (APOBEC3) proteins have been identified as potent inhibitors of diverse retroviruses, retrotransposons and hepatitis B virus (HBV). The mechanism of APOBEC3 proteins in the control of HBV infection, however, is less clear. Here we report that APOBEC3B (A3B) displays dual inhibitory effects on both HBsAg and HBeAg expression as well as HBV core-associated DNA synthesis. Heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein K (hnRNP K), a positive regulator of HBV expression, has been identified as a major interaction partner of A3B protein. A3B protein inhibited the binding of hnRNP K to the enhancer II of HBV (Enh II), and S gene transcription of HBV. Moreover, A3B directly suppressed HBV S gene promoter activity. Individual variation in A3B expression was observed in both normal primary hepatocytes and liver tissues. Interestingly, A3B was able to inhibit CMV and SV40 promoter-mediated gene expression. In conclusion, A3B suppresses HBV replication in hepatocytes by inhibiting hnRNP K-mediated transcription and expression of HBV genes as well as HBV core DNA synthesis. In addition, A3B protein may be a broad antiviral host factor. Thus, regulated A3B expression may contribute to non-cytolytic HBV clearance in vivo.
ASJC Scopus subject areas