Hepatitis B virus (HBV) utilizes host DNA repair mechanisms to convert viral relaxed circular DNA (rcDNA) into a persistent viral genome, the covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). To identify host factors involved in cccDNA formation, we developed an unbiased approach to discover proteins involved in cccDNA formation by precipitating nuclear rcDNA from induced HepAD38 cells and identifying the coprecipitated proteins by mass spectrometry. DNA damage binding protein 1 (DDB1) surfaced as a hit, coinciding with our previously reported short hairpin RNA (shRNA) screen in which shRNA-DDB1 in HepDES19 cells reduced cccDNA production. DDB1 binding to nuclear rcDNA was confirmed in HepAD38 cells via ChIP-qPCR. DDB1 and DNA damage binding protein 2 (DDB2) form the UV-DDB complex, and the latter senses DNA damage to initiate the global genome nucleotide excision repair (GG-NER) pathway. To investigate the role of the DDB complex in cccDNA formation, DDB2 was knocked out in HepAD38 and HepG2-NTCP cells. In both knockout cell lines, cccDNA formation was stunted significantly, and in HepG2-NTCP-DDB2 knockout cells, downstream indicators of cccDNA such as HBV RNA, HBcAg, and HBeAg were similarly reduced. Knockdown of DDB2 in HBV-infected HepG2-NTCP cells and primary human hepatocytes (PHH) also resulted in cccDNA reduction. Transcomplementation of wild-type DDB2 in HepG2-NTCP-DDB2 knockout cells rescued cccDNA formation and its downstream indicators. However, ectopic expression of DDB2 mutants deficient in DNA binding, DDB1 binding, or ubiquitination failed to rescue cccDNA formation. Our study thus suggests an integral role of UV-DDB, specifically DDB2, in the formation of HBV cccDNA.
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- DNA repair