The frequency of HBV genomic methylation in the liver was reported to vary among patients, but the detailed mechanism is still unknown. In this study, the effects of HBV genome methylation on HBV replication were investigated in vitro. A total of 6 plasmids containing 1.24-fold the HBV genome of different genotypes (subgenotypes A1, A2, B1, and C2) were purified after in vitro methylation with CpG methyltransferase (M.SssI) and transfected into HepG2 cells. In genotype B and C strains, methylation markedly decreased the amount of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) in the culture supernatant. A reduction of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) was found in some HBV strains but the reduction was smaller than that of HBeAg. There was no significant difference in particle-associated HBV DNA in the culture supernatant. These findings suggest that HBV genomic methylation might be involved in the HBeAg decline in genotype B and C, in part, and that the reduction of HBsAg was less than that of HBeAg. In conclusion, this study showed that the effect of HBV genomic methylation differs among HBV genotypes, suggesting a potential explanation for the different clinical outcomes of genotypes A, B, and C.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology