Hepatitis B virus (HBV) transcription was studied by Northern blot analysis on total cellular RNA purified from liver biopsies in 70 patients with chronic liver disease (24 HBsAg positive, 15 antiHBs and/or antiHBc positive, 31 HBV negative). No transcripts were found in the HBV negative and in the antiHBs and/or antiHBc positive patients. In the others, three major RNA species were identified: i. a 3.5 kb transcript corresponding to the RNA pregenome; ii. 2.4-2.1 kb transcript corresponding to the s and preS1 gene RNA; iii. lower molecular weight species. All three forms were present simultaneously only in patients with active viral replication, with a strict relation between the presence of the 3.5 kb RNA in the liver and serum HBV-DNA. In conclusion, Northern blot analysis can easily be performed to study viral replication and it can contribute to a better understanding of the molecular processes underlying HBV infection and leading to liver disease in man.
ASJC Scopus subject areas