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Virology. 2004 Feb 5;319(1):60-70.

The small delta antigen of hepatitis delta virus is an acetylated protein and acetylation of lysine 72 may influence its cellular localization and viral RNA synthesis.

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Graduate Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan.


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a single-stranded RNA virus that encodes two viral nucleocapsid proteins named small and large form hepatitis delta antigen (S-HDAg and L-HDAg). The S-HDAg is essential for viral RNA replication while the L-HDAg is required for viral assembly. In this study, we demonstrated that HDAg are acetylated proteins. Metabolic labeling with [(3)H]acetate revealed that both forms of HDAg could be acetylated in vivo. The histone acetyltransferase (HAT) domain of cellular acetyltransferase p300 could acetylate the full-length and the N-terminal 88 amino acids of S-HDAg in vitro. By mass spectrometric analysis of the modified protein, Lys-72 of S-HDAg was identified as one of the acetylation sites. Substitution of Lys-72 to Arg caused the mutant S-HDAg to redistribute from the nucleus to the cytoplasm. The mutant reduced viral RNA accumulation and resulted in the earlier appearance of L-HDAg. These results demonstrated that HDAg is an acetylated protein and mutation of HDAg at Lys-72 modulates HDAg subcellular localization and may participate in viral RNA nucleocytoplasmic shuttling and replication.

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