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Nature. 1986 Jul 3-9;322(6074):70-2.

Hepatitis B virus DNA integration in a sequence homologous to v-erb-A and steroid receptor genes in a hepatocellular carcinoma.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is clearly involved in the aetiology of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the finding of HBV DNA integration into human liver DNA in almost all HCCs studied suggested that these integrated viral sequences may be involved in liver oncogenesis. Several HBV integrations in different HCCs and HCC-derived cell lines have been analysed after molecular cloning without revealing any obvious role for HBV. From a comparison of a HBV integration site present in a particular HCC with the corresponding unoccupied site in the non-tumorous tissue of the same liver, we now report that HBV integration places the viral sequence next to a liver cell sequence which bears a striking resemblance to both an oncogene (v-erb-A) and the supposed DNA-binding domain of the human glucocorticoid receptor and human oestrogen receptor genes. We suggest that this gene, usually silent or transcribed at a very low level in normal hepatocytes, becomes inappropriately expressed as a consequence of HBV integration, thus contributing to the cell transformation.

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