SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Abstract

Localization of woodchuck hepatitis virus in liver tissue from 10 infected woodchucks was investigated immunohistochemically and ultrastructurally. Woodchuck hepatitis virus surface antigen was detected by immunoperoxidase methods in the cytoplasm of hepato-cytes with a fine granular and/or inclusion body appearance. Woodchuck hepatitis virus surface antigen positive hepatocytes were often found in the peripheral zone of hepatic lobules. In contrast to human hepatitis B core antigen, woodchuck hepatitis virus core antigen was observed only in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes, but not in the nuclei. In hyperplastic foci, woodchuck hepatitis virus antigen-positive hepatocytes were found in 3 of 8 animals. Furthermore, in 1 of 5 animals with hepatocel-lular carcinoma, woodchuck hepatitis virus surface antigen and woodchuck hepatitis virus core antigen were present in carcinoma cells. Electron microscopic examination revealed many filamentous structures (18 to 20 nm in diameter) in the cisternae of the endoplasmic reticulum. Noncoated core particles (18 to 20 nm in diameter) were found in the cytoplasm of the hepatocytes, but not in the nuclei. The coated particles (42 to 45 nm in diameter) were observed in the cisternae of the endoplasmic reticulum. These coated particles were shown to be morphologically identical to the virus particles in serum. These results indicate that woodchuck hepatitis virus core antigen is produced and assembled mainly in the cytoplasm of hepatocytes, and seems to be rapidly assembled into virion. The similarity of woodchuck hepatitis virus infection to human hepatitis B virus infection makes the woodchuck an excellent experimental model for the study of hepadna virus onco-genesis.