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J Viral Hepat. 1996 May;3(3):109-21.

Hepatitis B virus transcriptional activators: mechanisms and possible role in oncogenesis.

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Department of Virology, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London, UK.


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome encodes a 154 amino acid protein termed X (HBx, hepatitis B x protein), which is a promiscuous transcriptional activator of polymerase II and III promoters. HBx upregulates a wide range of cellular and viral genes and is thought to facilitate viral pregenome and mRNA transcription; however, its precise role in the viral replication cycle remains to be elucidated. The functional mechanisms of HBx appear very complex. It was shown to activate transcription factors AP-1 and NF-kappa B vis cytoplasmic pathways including ras-MAP kinase. In contrast, nuclear HBx is thought to activate the transcriptional machinery directly. A second transcriptional activator protein (Mst, middle s transactivator) is encoded by 3'-truncated preS2/S sequences of integrated HBV DNA, but not by the intact viral gene. HBx and Mst may contribute to the pathogenicity of chronic hepatitis B and are suggested to promote hepatocyte transformation via upregulation of cellular proto-oncogenes. Further, HBx may enhance HBV related carcinogenesis by inactivation of the tumour suppressor gene product p53.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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