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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 4;100(3):1310-5. Epub 2003 Jan 27.

Transcriptional and posttranscriptional control of hepatitis B virus gene expression.

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Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infects humans and certain nonhuman primates. Viral clearance and acute disease are associated with a strong, polyclonal, multispecific cytotoxic T lymphocyte response. Infiltrating T cells, as well as other activated inflammatory cells, produce cytokines that can regulate hepatocellular gene expression. Using an HBV transgenic mouse model, our laboratory has previously demonstrated that adoptive transfer of HBV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes or injection of IL-2 can noncytopathically inhibit HBV gene expression by a posttranscriptional IFN-gamma- and/or tumor necrosis factor alpha-dependent mechanism. Here, we report that HBV gene expression can also be controlled at the posttranscriptional level during persistent lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus infection. In contrast, it is controlled at the transcriptional level during acute murine cytomegalovirus infection or after repetitive polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid injection. Finally, we show that transcriptional inhibition of HBV is associated with changes in liver-specific gene expression. These results elucidate pathways that regulate the viral life cycle and suggest additional approaches for the treatment of chronic HBV infection.

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