The “e” antigen (HBeAg) is formed by the pre-core protein ORF that will result in the secretion of a heterogeneous population of polypeptides that display “e” antigenicity.
During the replication cycle of hepatitis B virus (HBV), three major viral antigens, termed core antigen, surface antigen and “e” antigen, are produced. The core antigen is a conformational antigenic determinant displayed by the viral core protein, and the surface antigen represents the antigenic determinants displayed by the three viral envelope proteins. It has been used as the synonym for HBV envelope proteins. The core protein expressed this way will self assemble into core particles that display core antigenicity. In contrast, the expression of the pre-core protein ORF will result in the secretion of a heterogeneous population of polypeptides that display “e” antigenicity.
While HBeAg antigen has no demonstrated role in the viral replication cycle, the antigen has long been a key clinical marker for viral replication, infectivity, disease severity, and response to treatment.
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