Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Biol Chem. 1999 May 14;274(20):13970-7.

The hepatitis B pX protein promotes dimerization and DNA binding of cellular basic region/leucine zipper proteins by targeting the conserved basic region.

Author information

  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Program in Molecular Medicine, University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Worcester, Massachusetts 01605, USA.


The hepatitis B virus pX protein is a potent transcriptional activator of viral and cellular genes whose mechanism of action is poorly understood. Here we show that pX dramatically stimulates in vitro DNA binding of a variety of cellular proteins that contain basic region/leucine zipper (bZIP) DNA binding domains. The basis for increased DNA binding is a direct interaction between pX and the conserved bZIP basic region, which promotes bZIP dimerization and the increased concentration of the bZIP homodimer then drives the DNA binding reaction. Unexpectedly, we found that the DNA binding specificity of various pX-bZIP complexes differs from one another and from that of the bZIP itself. Thus, through recognition of the conserved basic region, pX promotes dimerization, increases DNA binding, and alters DNA recognition. These properties of pX are remarkably similar to those of the human T-cell lymphotrophic virus type I Tax protein. Although Tax and pX are not homologous, we show that the regions of the two proteins that stimulate bZIP binding contain apparent metal binding sites. Finally, consistent with this in vitro activity, we provide evidence that both Tax and pX activate transcription in vivo, at least in part, by facilitating occupancy of bZIPs on target promoters.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk