Nuffield Department of Medicine, Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3SY, UK.
Nuffield Department of Medicine, NDM Research Building, Old Road Campus, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford OX3 7FZ.
Nuffield Department of Medicine, Peter Medawar Building for Pathogen Research, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3SY, UK; Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, John Radcliffe Hospital, Headley Way, Headington, Oxford OX3 9DU, UK.
Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory, Royal Melbourne Hospital at the Peter Doherty Institute of Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, Australia; Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Melbourne. Melbourne, Australia.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a unique, tiny, partially double-stranded, reverse-transcribing DNA virus with proteins encoded by multiple overlapping reading frames. The substitution rate is surprisingly high for a DNA virus, but lower than that of other reverse transcribing organisms. More than 260 million people worldwide have chronic HBV infection, which causes 0.8 million deaths a year. Due to the high burden of disease, international health agencies have set the goal of eliminating HBV infection by 2030. Nonetheless, the intriguing HBV genome has not been well characterized. We summarize data on the HBV genome structure and replication cycle, explain and quantify diversity within and among infected individuals, and discuss advances that can be offered by application of next-generation sequencing technology. In-depth HBV genome analyses could increase our understanding of disease pathogenesis and allow us to better predict patient outcomes, optimize treatment, and develop new therapeutics.