Hepatitis Delta Virus


Several viruses are important causes of acute and chronic infections of the human liver. (HDV) is a most unusual agent that is found only in association with . HDV can make HBV infections more damaging to the liver. HDV needs the envelope proteins of HBV to achieve virus assembly and infection of new susceptible cells. Thus, HDV infections can be prevented with the vaccine against HBV envelope proteins. HDV has an RNA genome that is unique in that it is very small (around 1700 nucleotides) and has a circular conformation. This genome is replicated via redirection of host RNA polymerase activity to act on RNA templates. This replication is fundamentally different from that of HBV, which involves reverse transcription.

Key Concepts

  • HDV is unlike any other animal virus.
  • HDV has similarities and yet distinct differences from viroids, agents that infect plants.
  • HDV only encodes one protein and yet by RNA editing creates an essential second protein.
  • HDV replicates by redirecting host RNA polymerase activity.
  • HDV can make HBV infections more pathogenic.

Keywords: hepatitis; delta; virus; interferon; ribozymes; RNA transcription; RNA editing

Figure 1. The three RNAs detected during the replication of HDV. (a) The first is the 1679‐nt single‐stranded circular RNA found within virions, and thus defined as the genome. (b) The second is an exact complement of the genome, defined as the antigenome, and together with the genome, it is found in the nuclei of infected cells. (c) A third RNA, the least abundant, cytoplasmic, about 800 nt in length, 5′‐capped and 3′‐polyadenylated, is the messenger RNA for the translation of the delta protein. Note that both the genome and the antigenome are drawn as having an unbranched rod‐like structure, involving extensive (around 74%) predicted level of intra‐molecular base‐pairing. Also, each contains a domain, with an alternative folding, that will act as a self‐cleaving ribozyme. Adapted from Taylor (), with permission, © Oxford University Press.


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Further Reading

Blanchet M, Sureau C and Labonte P (2014) Use of FDA approved therapeutics with hNTCP metabolic inhibitory properties to impair the HDV life cycle. Antiviral Research 106: 111–115.

Nkongolo S, Ni Y, Lempff FA, et al. (2014) Cyclosporin A inhibits hepatitis B and hepatitis D virus entry by cyclophilin‐independent interference with the NTCP receptor. Journal of Hepatology 60: 723–731.

Review of Hepatitis Delta Virus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hepatitis_D

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Taylor JM (2014) RNA circles and the origin of hepatitis delta virus. World Journal of Gastroenterology 20: 2971–2978.

Watashi K, Urban S, Li W and Wakita T (2014) NTCP and beyond: opening the door to unveil hepatitis B virus entry. International Journal of Molecular Sciences 15: 2892–2905.

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Taylor, John Marston(Feb 2015) Hepatitis Delta Virus. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0001029.pub4]