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J Biol Chem. 1997 Apr 25;272(17):10983-6.

Transcriptional repression of p53 promoter by hepatitis C virus core protein.

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Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri 63110, USA.


Our previous results have suggested that the putative core protein of hepatitis C virus (HCV) transcriptionally regulates cellular and viral genes, inhibits cisplatin and c-myc-mediated apoptotic cell death under certain conditions, and transforms primary rat embryo fibroblast cells with a cooperative oncogene. Because HCV appears to cause hepatocellular carcinoma, we evaluated the regulatory role of the HCV core protein on p53, a well known tumor suppressor gene, by an in vitro transfection assay. HCV core protein repressed transcriptional activity of the p53 promoter when tested separately in COS7 and HeLa cells. Deletion mutational analysis of the HCV core gene indicated that the regulatory domain involved in the repression of p53 transcriptional activity is located around amino acid residues 80-122 encompassing a putative DNA binding motif and two major phosphorylation sites. Results from this study suggest that the putative core protein may have an important biological role in the promotion of cell growth by repressing p53 transcription, and this appears to be consistent with certain earlier observations about HCV core moving into the nucleus.

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