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Oncogene. 1994 Feb;9(2):341-8.

Interaction of hepatitis B virus X protein with a serine protease, tryptase TL2 as an inhibitor.

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  • 1Department of Gene Research, Cancer Institute, JFCR, Tokyo, Japan.


X protein of hepatitis B virus (HBV) transactivates transcription of various viral and cellular genes. It has been suggested that X protein plays a major role in hepatocarcinogenesis by HBV. The protein possesses amino acid sequence homology to the functionally essential domain of Kunitz-type serine protease inhibitors. This Kunitz domain-like sequence in X protein is indispensable for the transactivation function. To clarify whether X protein has a serine protease inhibitor activity, a search was made for serine proteases which interact with, but not degrade X protein. Tryptase TL2, one of serine proteases in hepatic cells, was found to directly interact with X protein without degradation. Moreover, the activities of tryptase TL2 and an analogous protease were substantially inhibited by X protein. These results suggest that transactivation function of X protein is exerted by modulation of the hepatic serine protease activity, giving rise to quantitative or qualitative change of cellular transcription factor(s) through protection from proteolytic degradation and/or suppression of processing.

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