PLoS Pathog 2015 Apr 22;11(4):e1004840. Epub 2015 Apr 22.
Graduate Program in Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China; National Institute of Biological Sciences, Zhongguancun Life Science Park, Changping, Beijing, China.
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) is the smallest virus known to infect human. About 15 million people worldwide are infected by HDV among those 240 million infected by its helper hepatitis B virus (HBV). Viral hepatitis D is considered as one of the most severe forms of human viral hepatitis. No specific antivirals are currently available to treat HDV infection and antivirals against HBV do not ameliorate hepatitis D. Liver sodium taurocholate co-transporting polypeptide (NTCP) was recently identified as a common entry receptor for HDV and HBV in cell cultures. Here we show HDV can infect mice expressing human NTCP (hNTCP-Tg). Antibodies against critical regions of HBV envelope proteins blocked HDV infection in the hNTCP-Tg mice. The infection was acute yet HDV genome replication occurred efficiently, evident by the presence of antigenome RNA and edited RNA species specifying large delta antigen in the livers of infected mice. The resolution of HDV infection appears not dependent on adaptive immune response, but might be facilitated by innate immunity. Liver RNA-seq analyses of HDV infected hNTCP-Tg and type I interferon receptor 1 (IFNα/βR1) null hNTCP-Tg mice indicated that in addition to induction of type I IFN response, HDV infection was also associated with up-regulation of novel cellular genes that may modulate HDV infection. Our work has thus proved the concept that NTCP is a functional receptor for HDV infection in vivo and established a convenient small animal model for investigation of HDV pathogenesis and evaluation of antiviral therapeutics against the early steps of infection for this important human pathogen.