The cellular mechanisms by which hepatitis B virus (HBV) is assembled and exported are largely undefined. Recently, it has been suggested that these steps require the multivesicular body (MVB) and the autophagic machinery. However, the mechanisms by which HBV might regulate these compartments are unclear. In this study, we have found that by activating Rab7a, HBV alters its own secretion by inducing dramatic changes in the morphology of MVB and autophagic compartments. These changes are characterized by the formation of numerous tubules that are dependent upon the increase in Rab7 activity observed in the HBV-expressing HepG2.2.15 cells compared to HepG2 cells. Interestingly, transfection-based expression of the five individual viral proteins indicated that the precore protein, which is a precursor of HBeAg, was largely responsible for the increased Rab7 activity. Finally, small interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated depletion of Rab7 significantly increased the secretion of virions, suggesting that reduced delivery of the virus to the lysosome facilitates viral secretion. These findings provide novel evidence indicating that HBV can regulate its own secretion through an activation of the endo-lysosomal and autophagic pathway mediated by Rab7 activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology