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Mol Cell Biol. 2005 Sep;25(17):7522-33.

Activation of hepatitis B virus S promoter by a cell type-restricted IRE1-dependent pathway induced by endoplasmic reticulum stress.

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Pathology Service, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA.


IRE1-alpha is an integral membrane protein of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that is a key sensor in the cellular transcriptional response to stress in the ER. Upon induction of ER stress, IRE1-alpha is activated, resulting in the synthesis of the active form of the transcription factor XBP1 via IRE1-mediated splicing of its mRNA. In this report, we have examined the role of IRE1-alpha and XBP1 in activation of the hepatitis B virus S promoter by ER stress. Cotransfection experiments revealed that overexpression of either IRE1-alpha or XBP1 activated this promoter. Conversely, cotransfected dominant-negative IRE1-alpha or small interfering RNA directed against XBP1 decreased the activation of the S promoter by ER stress, confirming an important role for the IRE1-alpha/XBP1 signaling pathway in activation of the S promoter. However, XBP1 does not bind directly to the S promoter; rather, a novel S promoter-binding complex that does not contain XBP1 is induced in cells undergoing ER stress in an XBP1-dependent manner. This complex, as well as transcriptional activation of the S promoter, is induced by ER stress in hepatocytes but not in fibroblasts, despite the presence of active XBP1 in the latter. Thus, the hepatitis B virus S promoter responds to a novel, cell type-restricted transcriptional pathway downstream of IRE1-alpha and XBP1.

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