Recently, a rat pancreatic cell line (AR42J-B13) was shown to transdifferentiate to hepatocyte-like cells upon induction with dexamethasone (Dex). The aim of this study is to determine whether transdifferentiated hepatocytes can indeed function like bona fide liver cells and support replication of hepatotropic hepatitis B virus (HBV). We stably transfected AR42J-B13 cells with HBV DNA and examined the expression of hepatocyte markers and viral activities in control and transdifferentiated cells. A full spectrum of HBV replicative intermediates, including covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) and Dane particles, were detected only after induction with Dex and oncostatin M. Strikingly, the small envelope protein and RNA of HBV were increased by 40- to 100-fold upon induction. When HBV RNAs were examined by primer extension analysis, novel core-and precore-specific transcripts were induced by Dex which initiated at nucleotide (nt) 1820 and nt 1789, respectively. Most surprisingly, another species of core-specific RNA, which initiates at nt 1825, is always present at almost equal intensity before and after Dex treatment, a result consistent with Northern blot analysis. The fact that HBV core protein is dramatically produced only after transdifferentiation suggests the possibility of both transcriptional and translational regulation of HBV core antigen in HBV-transfected AR42J-B13 cells. Upon withdrawal of Dex, HBV replication and gene expression decreased rapidly-less than 50% of the cccDNA remained detectable in 1.5 days. Our studies demonstrate that the transdifferentiated AR42J-B13 cells can function like bona fide hepatocytes. This system offers a new opportunity for basic research of virus-host interactions and pancreatic transdifferentiation.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||Journal of Virology|
|Publication status||Published - 2005|