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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Nov 12;99(23):15118-23. Epub 2002 Oct 24.

Replicating hepatitis delta virus RNA is edited in the nucleus by the small form of ADAR1.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology and The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Research Foundation Laboratory, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) uses a host-encoded RNA-editing activity to express its two essential proteins from the same coding sequence. Adenosine deaminase that acts on RNA (ADAR)1 and ADAR2 are enzymes that catalyze such reactions, and each, when overexpressed, are capable of editing HDV RNA in vivo. However, the enzyme responsible for editing HDV RNA during replication has not been determined. Mammalian cells express two forms of ADAR1, a large form (ADAR1-L) that mainly localizes to the cytoplasm and a small form (ADAR1-S) that resides in the nucleus. Recently, we found that the specific activity of ADAR1-L within cells is much higher than that of ADAR1-S but only when the substrate can be edited in the cytoplasm. Here we observed that although both ADAR1-S and ADAR1-L were expressed throughout HDV replication, no ADAR2 could be observed at any time. Using expression vectors that individually overexpress either form of ADAR1, we found that ADAR1-S could stimulate editing during replication more efficiently. We next reduced ADAR1 levels during HDV replication. After transfection of an ADAR1-L-specific small interfering RNA (siRNA), we observed a significant loss of that protein and its associated cytoplasmic editing activity while the level of ADAR1-S remained unchanged. Transfection of this siRNA, however, did not reduce editing during HDV replication. In contrast, transfection of an siRNA that targets both forms of ADAR1 greatly reduced the expression of both proteins and potently inhibited editing during replication. We conclude that ADAR1-S edits HDV RNA during replication and that editing occurs in the nucleus.

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