• viral DNA replication;
  • supercoiled viral DNA;
  • model for antiviral studies


Primary duck hepatocyte (PDH) cultures were established from ducklings congenitally infected with the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV), plated onto feeder cell layers of irradiated human embryonic lung fibroblasts, and observed for 2 to 3 weeks. This system permitted the survival of the PDH in a differentiated form free of fibroblastic overgrowth for at least 3 weeks. The hepatocytes were shown to contain all the replicative DNA intermediates found during DHBV replication as well as the DHBV structural proteins PRE-S1, PRE-S2, and S of duck hepatitis B surface antigen (DHBsAg). The pool of supercoiled (SC) DHBV DNA increased dramatically from days 10 to 14 postplating. This PDH-feeder cell layer cell culture model provides a convenient system to study the effects of conventional inhibitors of DHBV replication and compounds targeted at the supercoiled form of DHBV DNA. This approach should allow the evaluation of a variety of strategies for treating chronic carriers of hepadnaviruses.