A structural model for duck hepatitis B virus core protein derived by extensive mutagenesis
Nassal, Michael × Leifer, Immanuel Wingert, Ida Dallmeier, Kai Prinz, Simone Vorreiter, Jolanta #
American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
Journal of Virology vol:81 issue:23 pages:13218-29
Duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) shares many fundamental features with human HBV. However, the DHBV core protein (DHBc), forming the nucleocapsid shell, is much larger than that of HBV (HBc) and, in contrast to HBc, there is little direct information on its structure. Here we applied an efficient expression system for recombinant DHBc particles to the biochemical analysis of a large panel of mutant DHBc proteins. By combining these data with primary sequence alignments, secondary structure prediction, and three-dimensional modeling, we propose a model for the fold of DHBc. Its major features are a HBc-like two-domain structure with an assembly domain comprising the first about 185 amino acids and a C-terminal nucleic acid binding domain (CTD), connected by a morphogenic linker region that is longer than in HBc and extends into the CTD. The assembly domain shares with HBc a framework of four major alpha-helices but is decorated at its tip with an extra element that contains at least one helix and that is made up only in part by the previously predicted insertion sequence. All subelements are interconnected, such that structural changes at one site are transmitted to others, resulting in an unexpected variability of particle morphologies. Key features of the model are independently supported by the accompanying epitope mapping study. These data should be valuable for functional studies on the impact of core protein structure on virus replication, and some of the mutant proteins may be particularly suitable for higher-resolution structural investigations.