Journal of viral hepatitis vol:4 issue:3 pages:145-53
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is still a major public health problem worldwide. Although much information about the molecular biology of HBV has been gained in the last decades, little is known about the mechanism of attachment and penetration of the HBV particle into human hepatocytes. The HBV envelope proteins are important for the interaction between the HBV particle and the hepatocyte plasma membrane. Although initially it was suggested that the preS2 domain could act, via polymerized human serum albumin, as an attachment site to human hepatocytes, in recent years other observations showed that the preS1 domain is probably the most important attachment site to human hepatocytes. However, controversial findings on cellular proteins for binding to the preS1 domain has been described, namely the IgA-, the IL6-, the asialoglycoprotein receptor and GAPD. Although the preS1 attachment site may be important, apo H has been shown to bind specifically to small HBsAg. Recently, we have identified human liver Annexin V as a specific small HBsAg-binding protein. In a preliminary report, the direct involvement of human Annexin V in the initial step of HBV infection has been demonstrated. A rat hepatoma cell line, which does not express human Annexin V and which is not infectable by HBV, gained the ability to become infected by HBV after transfection with human Annexin V. This result may facilitate the progress of HBV receptor research and elucidate the molecular mechanism of the initial step of HBV infection.