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Inhibition of hepatitis B virus (HBV) gene expression and replication by HBx gene silencing in a hydrodynamic injection mouse model with a new clone of HBV genotype B

Lei Li12, Hong Shen1, Anyi Li4, Zhenhua Zhang1, Baoju Wang1, Junzhong Wang1, Xin Zheng1, Jun Wu1, Dongliang Yang1, Mengji Lu5 and Jingjiao Song3*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, Union Hospital of Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, P.R. China

2 Department of Infectious Disease, Anhui Provincial Hospital, No.9 Lujiang Road, Hefei, P.R. China

3 Division of Clinical Immunology, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, P.R. China

4 Animal Center, Tongji Hospital of Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, P.R. China

5 Institute of Virology, University Hospital of Essen, University Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany

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Virology Journal 2013, 10:214  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-10-214

Published: 28 June 2013



It has been suggested that different hepatitis B virus (HBV) genotypes may have distinct virological characteristics that correlate with clinical outcomes during antiviral therapy and the natural course of infection. Hydrodynamic injection (HI) of HBV in the mouse model is a useful tool for study of HBV replication in vivo. However, only HBV genotype A has been used for studies with HI.


We constructed 3 replication-competent clones containing 1.1, 1.2 and 1.3 fold overlength of a HBV genotype B genome and tested them both in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, A HBV genotype B clone based on the pAAV-MCS vector was constructed with the 1.3 fold HBV genome, resulting in the plasmid pAAV-HBV1.3B and tested by HI in C57BL/6 mice. Application of siRNA against HBx gene was tested in HBV genotype B HI mouse model.


The 1.3 fold HBV clone showed higher replication and gene expression than the 1.1 and 1.2 fold HBV clones. Compared with pAAV-HBV1.2 (genotype A), the mice HI with pAAV-HBV1.3B showed higher HBsAg and HBeAg expression as well as HBV DNA replication level but a higher clearance rate. Application of two plasmids pSB-HBxi285 and pSR-HBxi285 expressing a small/short interfering RNA (siRNA) to the HBx gene in HBV genotype B HI mouse model, leading to an inhibition of HBV gene expression and replication. However, HBV gene expression may resume in some mice despite an initial delay, suggesting that transient suppression of HBV replication by siRNA may be insufficient to prevent viral spread, particularly if the gene silencing is not highly effective.


Taken together, the HI mouse model with a HBV genotype B genome was successfully established and showed different characteristics in vivo compared with the genotype A genome. The effectiveness of gene silencing against HBx gene determines whether HBV replication may be sustainably inhibited by siRNA in vivo.

Hydrodynamic injection; HBV mouse model; HBV genotype B; HBx gene silencing; Antiviral research