Theranostics 2019; 9(24):7345-7358. doi:10.7150/thno.37173 This issue

Research Paper

HAT1 signaling confers to assembly and epigenetic regulation of HBV cccDNA minichromosome

Guang Yang1, Jinyan Feng1, Yunxia Liu1, Man Zhao1, Ying Yuan1, Hongfeng Yuan1, Haolin Yun1, Mingming Sun1, Yanan Bu1, Lei Liu1, Zixian Liu1, Jun-qi Niu2, Ming Yin3, Xijun Song3, Zhenchuan Miao3, Zhongqing Lin3, Xiaodong Zhang1✉

1. Department of Cancer Research, Institute of Molecular Biology, College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin 300071, P.R. China.
2. Department of Hepatology, The First Hospital, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, P.R. China.
3. Beijing Vitalstar Biotechnology Co. Ltd., Beijing 100000, P.R. China.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( See for full terms and conditions.
Yang G, Feng J, Liu Y, Zhao M, Yuan Y, Yuan H, Yun H, Sun M, Bu Y, Liu L, Liu Z, Niu Jq, Yin M, Song X, Miao Z, Lin Z, Zhang X. HAT1 signaling confers to assembly and epigenetic regulation of HBV cccDNA minichromosome. Theranostics 2019; 9(24):7345-7358. doi:10.7150/thno.37173. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Rationale: Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a leading cause of liver diseases. HBV covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) is a critical obstacle of complete elimination by anti-HBV therapy. HBV cccDNA accumulates in nucleus as a chromatin-like cccDNA minichromosome assembled by histones and non-histones. However, the underlying mechanism of modulation of cccDNA minichromosome in hepatocytes is poorly understood.

Methods: A human liver-chimeric mouse model was established. The cccDNA-ChIP, Southern blot analysis, confocal assays, RIP assays and RNA pull-down assays, et al. were performed to assess the mechanism of assembly and epigenetic regulation of cccDNA minichromosome in human liver-chimeric mouse model, human primary hepatocytes (PHH), dHepaRG, HepG2-NTCP cell lines and clinical liver tissues.

Results: Importantly, the expression levels of HAT1, CAF-1 and lncRNA HULC were significantly elevated in the liver from HBV-infected human liver-chimeric mice. Strikingly, the depletion of HAT1 reduced HBV replication and cccDNA accumulation, and impaired the assembly of histone H3/H4 and the deposition of HBx and p300 onto cccDNA to form cccDNA minichromosome in the cells. Mechanically, chromatin assembly factor-1 (CAF-1) was involved in the events. Interestingly, HAT1 modified the acetylation of histone H3K27/H4K5/H4K12 on cccDNA minichromosome. Moreover, lncRNA HULC-scaffold HAT1/HULC/HBc complex was responsible for the modification on cccDNA minichromosome. Additionally, HBV activated HAT1 through HBx-co-activated transcriptional factor Sp1 in a positive feedback manner.

Conclusion: HAT1 signaling contributes to assembly and epigenetic regulation of HBV cccDNA minichromosome.

Keywords: HAT1 signaling, HBV cccDNA minichromosome, assembly, epigenetic modification