Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 30936483
Link to DOI – 10.1038/s41564-019-0405-x
Nat Microbiol 2019 Jul; 4(7): 1196-1207
Numerous human APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases have proven to be, inter alia, host cell restriction factors for retroviruses and hepadnaviruses. Although they can bind to genomic RNA and become encapsidated, they are only catalytically active on single-stranded DNA. As there are many cellular deoxyribonucleases (DNases), we hypothesized that a parallel could be struck between APOBEC3 and DNases. For human hepatitis B virus (HBV), we show that DNase I can considerably reduce the virion genome copy number from a variety of transfected or infected cells. DNASE1 is overexpressed and encapsidated in HBV particles in vitro in hypoxic environments and in vivo in cirrhotic patient livers as well as in the serum of infected patients. The use of CoCl2 and dimethyloxalylglycine, mimetic agents used to induce hypoxia by inhibiting prolyl hydroxylase enzymes that stabilize hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1α, showed that the formation of HIF-1α/HIF-1β heterodimers results in the induction of DNASE1. Indeed, transfection with HIF-1α and HIF-1β expression constructs upregulated DNASE1. These findings suggest that human DNase I can impact HBV replication through the catabolism of the DNA genome within the capsid. The activity of DNases in general may explain in part the high frequency of empty or ‘light’ hepatitis B virions observed in vivo.