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Mol Cell Biol. 1988 Jun;8(6):2449-55.

The S promoter of hepatitis B virus is regulated by positive and negative elements.

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Department of Virology, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


The S promoter, one of the major hepatitis B virus (HBV) promoters, directs the synthesis of mRNA for surface antigen. Transient expression studies revealed that this promoter is highly active in the Alexander hepatoma cell line but not in SK-Hep1 and HeLa cells. We found that a distal element of the promoter (-103 to -48) confers this cell-type-specific behavior through a mechanism in which the promoter activity is repressed in HeLa and SK-Hep1 cells but increased in Alexander cells. By using an inhibitor of protein synthesis, we obtained evidence that a labile repressor(s) confers the negative effect in SK-Hep1 cells. We also found an enhancerlike activity associated with a small DNA segment of the S promoter (-27 to + 30). This proximal element was active in HeLa and SK-Hep1 cells only in the absence of the distal negative element. Finally, analysis of S promoter deletion mutants demonstrated that the -27 to -17 region of the S promoter is crucial for its activity.

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