Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 20483545
Pathol. Biol. 2010 Aug;58(4):267-72
The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a widespread human pathogen and a major health problem in many countries. Molecular cloning and sequencing of the viral DNA genome has demonstrated a small and compact structure organized into four overlapping reading frames that encode the viral proteins. Besides structural proteins of the core and the envelope, HBV encodes a DNA polymerase with reverse transcriptase activity, a secreted antigen of unknown function, and a transcriptional activator that is essential for viral replication. Major steps of the viral life cycle have been unraveled, including transcription of all viral RNAs from nuclear covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), followed by encapsidation of pregenomic RNA, a more-than-genome length transcript, and reverse transcription of pregenomic RNA leading to asymmetric synthesis of the DNA strands. Although HBV has been recognized as a human tumor virus, no direct transforming activity could be evidenced in different cellular and animal models. However, the transcriptional regulatory protein HBx encoded by the X gene is endowed with weak oncogenic activity. HBx harbors pleiotropic activities and plays a major role in HBV pathogenesis and in liver carcinogenesis.