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J Biol Chem. 1997 Mar 14;272(11):7132-9.

Hepatitis B virus X protein is a transcriptional modulator that communicates with transcription factor IIB and the RNA polymerase II subunit 5.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, Cancer Research Institute, Kanazawa University, Takara-machi 13-1, Kanazawa 920, Japan.


Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) transactivates viral and cellular genes through a wide variety of cis-elements. However, the mechanism is still obscure. Our finding that HBx directly interacts with RNA polymerase II subunit 5 (RPB5), a common subunit of RNA polymerases, implies that HBx directly modulates the function of RNA polymerase (Cheong, J. H., Yi, M., Lin, Y., and Murakami, S. (1995) EMBO J. 14, 142-150). In this context, we examined the possibility that HBx and RPB5 interact with other general transcription factors. HBx and RPB5 specifically bound to transcription factor IIB (TFIIB) in vitro, both of which were detected by either far-Western blotting or the glutathione S-transferase-resin pull-down assay. Delineation of the binding regions of these three proteins revealed that HBx, RPB5, and TFIIB each has two binding regions for the other two proteins. Co-immunoprecipitation using HepG2 cell lysates that express HBx demonstrated trimeric interaction in vivo. Some HBx substitution mutants, which had severely impaired transacting activity, exhibited reduced binding affinity with either TFIIB or RPB5 in a mutually exclusive manner, suggesting that HBx transactivation requires the interactions of both RPB5 and TFIIB. These results indicated that HBx is a novel virus modulator that facilitates transcriptional initiation by stabilizing the association between RNA polymerase and TFIIB through communication with RPB5 and TFIIB.

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