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Multimodal study of the interactions between the hepatitis B virus and the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase cGAS

Abstract : Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major cause of liver disease and cancer worldwide. The mechanisms of viral genome sensing and the evasion of innate immune responses by HBV infection are still poorly understood. Recently, the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase (cGAS) was identified as a DNA sensor. In this PhD work, we aimed to investigate the functional role of cGAS in sensing of HBV infection and elucidate the mechanisms of viral evasion. We performed functional studies including loss- and gain-of-function experiments combined with cGAS effector gene expression profiling in an HBV infection-susceptible cell culture model. Collectively, our data show that (1) the cGAS-STING pathway exhibits robust antiviral activity against HBV infection including reduction of viral cccDNA levels; (2) naked HBV genomic rcDNA is sensed in a cGAS-dependent manner whereas packaging of the viral genome during infection abolishes host cell recognition of viral nucleic acids; (3) HBV infection down-regulates the cGAS/STING pathway actors as well as innate immune effector gene expression in vitro and vivo. Overall, this work led to describing new aspects of the complex interaction between HBV and the DNA sensor cGAS in hepatocytes.
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Seung-Ae Yim. Multimodal study of the interactions between the hepatitis B virus and the cyclic GMP-AMP synthase cGAS. Virology. Université de Strasbourg, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017STRAJ041⟩. ⟨tel-02003380⟩

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