Human apolipoprotein e promotes hepatitis B virus infection and production

Academic Article


  • Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a common cause of liver diseases, including chronic hepatitis, steatosis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HBV chronically infects about 240 million people worldwide, posing a major global health problem. The current standard antiviral therapy effectively inhibits HBV replication but does not eliminate the virus unlike direct-acting antivirals (DAA) for curing hepatitis C. Our previous studies have demonstrated that human apolipoprotein E (apoE) plays important roles in hepatitis C virus infection and morphogenesis. In the present study, we have found that apoE is also associated with HBV and is required for efficient HBV infection. An apoE-specific monoclonal antibody was able to capture HBV similar to anti-HBs. More importantly, apoE monoclonal antibody could effectively block HBV infection, resulting in a greater than 90% reduction of HBV infectivity. Likewise, silencing of apoE expression or knockout of apoE gene by CRISPR/Cas9 resulted in a greater than 90% reduction of HBV infection and more than 80% decrease of HBV production, which could be fully restored by ectopic apoE expression. However, apoE silencing or knockout did not significantly affect HBV DNA replication or the production of nonenveloped (naked) nucleocapsids. These findings demonstrate that human apoE promotes HBV infection and production. We speculate that apoE may also play a role in persistent HBV infection by evading host immune response similar to its role in the HCV life cycle and pathogenesis. Inhibitors interfering with apoE biogenesis, secretion, and/or binding to receptors may serve as antivirals for elimination of chronic HBV infection.
  • Published In

  • PLoS Pathogens  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Qiao L; Luo GG
  • Volume

  • 15
  • Issue

  • 8