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J Viral Hepat. 2002 Sep;9(5):323-31.

Regulatory elements of hepatitis B virus transcription.

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Hepatitis B virus Research Programme, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, 7 York Road, Parktown 2193, South Africa.


The precise modulation of hepatitis B virus (HBV) gene expression is essential for replication of the virus. HBV sequences are transcribed under the control of the preC/pregenomic, S1, S2 and X promoters. With the exception of S1, all the HBV promoters lack the orthodox TATA box motifs required for the formation of the transcription initiation complex, and as such they represent a unique model of transcription initiation elements. The presence of two enhancer sequences and negative regulatory elements in the HBV genome further augments the controlled synthesis of HBV- RNA. All these transcription cis-elements are embedded within protein coding regions of the genome. This feature demonstrates the remarkable ability of the virus to maximize the function of its small genome. HBV transcription control elements also display a preference for liver-specific or liver-enriched trans-factors, which contributes to the liver tropism of the virus. This review outlines the major HBV transcription regulatory elements and highlights the reliance of accurate HBV gene modulation on the complex interplay between several trans-acting factors and their corresponding cis- motifs in the viral genome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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