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Virologica Sinica, 32 (6) : 454, 2017
Recent advances in the study of hepatitis B virus covalently closed circular DNA
Sino-German Biomedical Center, Key Laboratory of Fermentation Engineering (Ministry of Education),
Hubei Provincial Cooperative Innovation Center of Industrial Fermentation, National “111” Center for
Cellular Regulation and Molecular Pharmaceutics, Hubei University of Technology, Wuhan 430068, China
 Correspondence: hukh@mail.hbut.edu.cn
Chronic hepatitis B infection is caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) and a total cure is yet to be achieved. The viral covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) is the key to establish a persistent infection within hepatocytes. Current antiviral strategies have no effect on the pre-existing cccDNA reservoir. Therefore, the study of the molecular mechanism of cccDNA formation is becoming a major focus of HBV research. This review summarizes the current advances in cccDNA molecular biology and the latest studies on the elimination or inactivation of cccDNA, including three major areas: (1) epigenetic regulation of cccDNA by HBV X protein, (2) immune-mediated degradation, and (3) genome-editing nucleases. All these aspects provide clues on how to finally attain a cure for chronic hepatitis B infection.
Received: 28 Apr 2017  Accepted: 27 Nov 2017  Published online: 21 Dec 2017
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