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J Virol. 1988 Feb;62(2):594-9.

A single antigenomic open reading frame of the hepatitis delta virus encodes the epitope(s) of both hepatitis delta antigen polypeptides p24 delta and p27 delta.

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Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California 94608.


On the basis of the complete nucleotide sequence of the single-stranded, covalently closed circular hepatitis delta virus RNA genome (K.-S. Wang, Q.-L. Choo, A. J. Weiner, J.-H. Ou, R. C. Najarian, R. M. Thayer, G. T. Mullenbach, K. J. Denniston, J. L. Gerin, and M. Houghton, Nature [London] 323:508-514, 1986 [Author's correction, 328:456, 1987]), five long open reading frames (ORFs) encoding polypeptides containing a methionine proximal to the amino terminus were expressed in bacteria. Only polypeptides encoded by the antigenomic ORF5 cross-reacted with antisera obtained from patients with hepatitis delta virus infections. Immunological analysis of viral extracts and the recombinant ORF5 polypeptides synthesized in bacteria and yeast cells revealed that ORF5 encodes the immunogenic epitope(s) shared by both hepatitis delta viral polypeptides p27 delta and p24 delta and probably represents the complete structural gene for p27 delta and p24 delta. We also present evidence that ORF5 encodes the hepatitis delta antigen, an antigen originally found in the nuclei of hepatocytes of infected individuals (M. Rizzetto, M. G. Canese, S. Arico, O. Crivelli, F. Bonino, C. G. Trepo, and G. Verme, Gut 18:997-1003, 1977). A comparison of the primary structure of the predicted hepatitis delta antigen polypeptides with that of the core antigen of the hepatitis B virus shows that these polypeptides are very dissimilar.

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