Scientific publications

AAV-HDV: An Attractive Platform for the In Vivo Study of HDV Biology and the Mechanism of Disease Pathogenesis

Apr 28, 2021 | Magazine: Viruses

Sheila Maestro, Nahia Gómez-Echarte, Gracián Camps, Carla Usai, Lester Suárez, África Vales, Cristina Olagüe, Rafael Aldabe, Gloria González-Aseguinolaza


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) infection causes the most severe form of viral hepatitis, but little is known about the molecular mechanisms involved. We have recently developed an HDV mouse model based on the delivery of HDV replication-competent genomes using adeno-associated vectors (AAV), which developed a liver pathology very similar to the human disease and allowed us to perform mechanistic studies.

We have generated different AAV-HDV mutants to eliminate the expression of HDV antigens (HDAgs), and we have characterized them both in vitro and in vivo. We confirmed that S-HDAg is essential for HDV replication and cannot be replaced by L-HDAg or host cellular proteins, and that L-HDAg is essential to produce the HDV infectious particle and inhibits its replication. We have also found that lack of L-HDAg resulted in the increase of S-HDAg expression levels and the exacerbation of liver damage, which was associated with an increment in liver inflammation but did not require T cells.

Interestingly, early expression of L-HDAg significantly ameliorated the liver damage induced by the mutant expressing only S-HDAg. In summary, the use of AAV-HDV represents a very attractive platform to interrogate in vivo the role of viral components in the HDV life cycle and to better understand the mechanism of HDV-induced liver pathology.

CITATION  Viruses. 2021 Apr 28;13(5):788. doi: 10.3390/v13050788.