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J Virol. 1991 December; 65(12): 6630–6636.
PMCID: PMC250729

Small-form hepatitis B surface antigen is sufficient to help in the assembly of hepatitis delta virus-like particles.


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) has an envelope composed of large-, middle-, and small-form hepatitis B surface antigens (HBsAgs) provided by the helper hepatitis B virus (HBV). In order to examine the roles of individual HBsAgs in HDV assembly, we constructed plasmids containing each specific HBsAg gene and then cotransfected each plasmid with HDV cDNA into a permissive human hepatoma cell line (HuH-7) to examine the effects on HDV production. Results indicated that the plasmids containing only the HBsAg genes were able to complement HDV cDNA as efficiently as the plasmid containing the complete HBV genome in generating HDV-like particles. Moreover, the small-form HBsAg alone was sufficient for HDV packaging. The particles produced from the cotransfection experiments have density and protein composition characteristics similar to those of naturally occurring HDV. With the electron microscope, they were identified as 36- to 38-nm-diameter particles. It was concluded that only the HBsAgs were able to help in the assembly of HDV-like particles.

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