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Mammalian cells have evolved strategies to regulate gene expression when oxygen is limited. Hypoxia inducible factors (HIF) are the major transcriptional regulators of host gene expression. We previously reported that HIFs bind and activate hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA transcription under low oxygen conditions; however, the global cellular response to low oxygen is mediated by a family of oxygenases that work in concert with HIFs. Recent studies have identified a role for chromatin modifiers in sensing cellular oxygen and orchestrating transcriptional responses, but their role in the HBV life cycle is as yet undefined. We demonstrated that histone lysine demethylase 4 (KDM4) can restrict HBV, and pharmacological or oxygen-mediated inhibition of the demethylase increases viral RNAs derived from both episomal and integrated copies of the viral genome. Sequencing studies demonstrated that KDM4 is a major regulator of the hepatic transcriptome, which defines hepatocellular permissivity to HBV infection. We propose a model where HBV exploits cellular oxygen sensors to replicate and persist in the liver. Understanding oxygen-dependent pathways that regulate HBV infection will facilitate the development of physiologically relevant cell-based models that support efficient HBV replication.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.jbc.2024.105724

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Biol Chem

Publication Date

05/02/2024