After receiving lamivudine for 3 years to treat chronic hepatitis B, 67–75% of patients develop B-domain L528M, C-domain M552I, or M552V mutations in the HBV polymerase that render hepatitis B virus (HBV) drug-resistant. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of these mutations on viral replication and resistance to antiviral agents. We investigated the replication fitness and susceptibility of the wild-type and five mutant HBVs (L528M, M552I, M552V, L528M/M552I, and L528M/M552V) to 11 compounds [lamivudine, adefovir, entecavir (BMS-200475) (+)-BCH-189 (±)-FTC (racivir) (–)-FTC (emtricitabine) (+)-FTC, L-D4FC, L-FMAU (clevudine), D-DAPD, and (–)-carbovir] by transfecting HBV DNA into hepatoma cells and monitoring viral products by Southern blotting. The replication competency of the single C-domain mutants M552I and M552V was markedly decreased compared with that of wild-type HBV. However, addition of the B-domain mutation L528M restored replication competence. Only adefovir and entecavir were effective against all five HBV mutants, and higher doses of these compounds were necessary to inhibit the double mutants compared with the single mutants. The B-domain mutation (L528M) of HBV polymerase not only restores the replication competence of C-domain mutants, but also increases resistance to nucleoside analogues.


Suzane Kioko Ono, Naoya Kato, Yasushi Shiratori, Jun Kato, Tadashi Goto, Raymond F. Schinazi, Flair José Carrilho, Masao Omata


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