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J Virol. 1996 Jan;70(1):641-6.

Hepatitis B virus pX activates NF-kappa B-dependent transcription through a Raf-independent pathway.

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  • 1Fondazione Andrea Cesalpino, Universit√† degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza, Italy.


In this study, we characterized the molecular events involved in the activation of the ubiquitous transcription factor NF-kappa B by the viral transactivator pX. pX expression in HeLa cells determines a manyfold increase in NF-kappa B-dependent transcription, which is associated with an increase in p50/p65 heterodimer DNA-binding activity. Since the I kappa B-alpha inhibitory subunit proteolytic degradation, which follows its phosphorylation/modification, is a key event in NF-kappa B activation by different stimuli (such as growth factors, phorbol esters, tumor necrosis factor, UV irradiation, and oxygen radicals), we investigated pX effects on I kappa B-alpha, as well as the possible involvement of known signalling pathways in pX-induced NF-kappa B-dependent transcription. We observed that although pX had no direct effect on p50 or p65, it was able to restore the I kappa B-alpha-suppressed p50/p65 activity. More directly, the stable expression of pX in HeLa cells resulted in reduced levels of I kappa B-alpha in the cytoplasm. Pretreatment of the cells with H7, calphostin C, tyrphostin 25, or N-acetylcysteine did not impair the effects of pX on NF-kappa B, thus ruling out the involvement of protein kinase C, tyrosine kinases, and oxygen radicals. Finally, while most of the known NF-kappa B-activating agents converge on Raf-1 protein kinase, when Raf-1 activity is blocked by overexpression of a dominant negative mutant, the effects of pX on NF-kappa B are not impaired. Thus, we suggest that although pX is able to activate the Ras/Raf-1-signalling pathway, it triggers NF-kappa B activation by an as yet unidentified Raf-1-independent pathway.

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