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Hepatology. 1994 Jan;19(1):23-31.

The hepatitis B virus preS2/St transactivator utilizes AP-1 and other transcription factors for transactivation.

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  • 1Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, Germany.


Integrated hepatitis B virus DNA cloned from hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocellular carcinoma frequently contains 3'-truncated middle surface genes (preS2/St), which were recently found to have a transcriptional transactivator function. Because preS2/St, among others, is able to transactivate the promoters of the cellular oncogenes c-myc and c-fos, it has been speculated that integrated preS2/St genes might contribute to hepatitis B virus-associated liver carcinogenesis. In this study, we investigated the mechanism of target gene stimulation by preS2/St. It was found that deletion of a fragment containing the binding site for transcription factor AP-1 (Jun-Fos) substantially decreases inducibility of the human c-myc promoter by preS2/St. A subsequent investigation of AP-1 activation by preS2/St revealed the following: (a) insertion of multimeric AP-1 binding sites confers inducibility to an otherwise unstimulatable test promoter; (b) transactivation of AP-1 sites is dramatically increased when Jun and Fos are overexpressed by cotransfected expression plasmids; and (c) inhibitors of AP-1 activation also impair transactivation by preS2/St. Besides AP-1, preS2/St was also able to utilize the unrelated transcription factors NF-kappa B and AP-2 for transactivation, suggesting that the gene product of preS2/St acts indirectly through one or several general cellular pathways rather than as a bona fide transcription factor. Because AP-1 conveys induction of a large panel of tumor-relevant genes, its preS2/St-dependent activation implies a possible causative role in hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocarcinogenesis.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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