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Hepatitis B virus X protein: TRIMming antiviral defences in hepatocytes
  1. Emmanuel Thomas
  1. Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Emmanuel Thomas, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Schiff Center for Liver Diseases, Miami, FL 33136, USA; EThomas1{at}med.miami.edu

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Humans and viruses have coevolved over thousands of years; however, very few viruses are able to manifest as chronic infections with most being cleared after an acute course. Consequently, success of the human species has relied on a functional immune system that is capable of fighting off most viral pathogens. The heptatitis B virus (HBV)  is one of the most successful viruses to establish chronic infection in man with over 300 million individuals currently infected worldwide and over 2 billion humans having been infected by this virus.1 These numbers underscore the tremendous ability of HBV to thwart the human immune system and establish chronic infection. In this issue of Gut, Lim et al 2 have provided evidence for a new mechanism through which HBV is able to establish and maintain chronic infection.

They specifically examine the role of the enigmatic HBx protein3 in the regulation of TRIM22, a protein that has increasingly become associated with innate antiviral responses.4 5 Previous studies have demonstrated that HBx, a virally encoded protein that plays unusual roles in its life cycle, can block the antiviral response in addition …

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