Publications and Research

Document Type


Publication Date



Initiation of protein-primed (-) strand DNA synthesis in hepatitis B virus (HBV) requires interaction of the viral reverse transcriptase with epsilon (ε), a cis-acting regulatory signal located at the 5’ terminus of pre-genomic RNA (pgRNA), and several host-encoded chaperone proteins. Binding of the viral polymerase (P protein) to ε is necessary for pgRNA encapsidation and synthesis of a short primer covalently attached to its terminal domain. Although we identified small molecules that recognize HBV ε RNA, these failed to inhibit protein-primed DNA synthesis. However, since initiation of HBV (-) strand DNA synthesis occurs within a complex of viral and host components (e.g., Hsp90, DDX3 and APOBEC3G), we considered an alternative therapeutic strategy of allosteric inhibition by disrupting the initiation complex or modifying its topology. To this end, we show here that 3,7-dihydroxytropolones (3,7-dHTs) can inhibit HBV protein-primed DNA synthesis. Since DNA polymerase activity of a ribonuclease (RNase H)-deficient HBV reverse transcriptase that otherwise retains DNA polymerase function is also abrogated, this eliminates direct involvement of RNase (ribonuclease) H activity of HBV reverse transcriptase and supports the notion that the HBV initiation complex might be therapeutically targeted. Modeling studies also provide a rationale for preferential activity of 3,7-dHTs over structurally related α-hydroxytropolones (α-HTs).


This work was originally published in Molecules, available at doi: 10.3390/molecules25194434

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.