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    While there is an effective vaccine for Human Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), 257 million people have chronic infections for which there is no cure. The assembly process for the viral capsid is a potential therapeutic target. In order to understand the capsid assembly process, we investigated the dimeric building blocks of the capsid. To understand what blocks assembly, we took advantage of an assembly incompetent mutant dimer, Cp149-Y132A, located in the interdimer interface. This mutation leads to changes in protein dynamics throughout the structure of the dimer as measured by hydrogen-deuterium exchange mass spectrometry (HDX-MS). To further understand how the HBV capsid assembles, the homologue woodchuck HBV (WHV) capsid protein dimer (Cp) was used. WHV is more stable than HBV in HDX-MS and native mass spectrometry experiments. Because the WHV Cp assembles more rapidly into viral capsids than HBV, it was suspected that an increase in stability of the intradimer interface and/or in the contact region leads to increased assembly rates. The differences in dynamics when comparing HBV and human Cp149-Y132A as well as the differences in dynamics when comparing the HBV and WHV Cps allowed us to map an allosteric network within the HBV dimer. Through a careful comparison of structure, stability, and dynamics using four different capsid protein dimers, we conclude that protein subunit dynamics regulate HBV capsid assembly.


    Angela Patterson, Zhongchao Zhao, Elizabeth Waymire, Adam Zlotnick, Brian Bothner. Dynamics of Hepatitis B Virus Capsid Protein Dimer Regulate Assembly through an Allosteric Network. ACS chemical biology. 2020 Aug 21;15(8):2273-2280

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    PMID: 32662972

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