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J Gen Virol. 1997 Nov;78 ( Pt 11):3029-38.

Characterization of the hepatitis B virus major surface antigen promoter hepatocyte nuclear factor 3 binding site.

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Department of Molecular and Experimental Medicine, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA.


Transcription of the HBV 2.1 kb RNAs is regulated by the major surface antigen promoter. Previously, transient transfection analysis identified regulatory sequence elements in this promoter located between -189 and +1 which govern the level of transcription from this promoter and appear to bind only ubiquitous transcription factors including NF1, Sp1 and NF-Y. However, in vivo transcription analysis in transgenic mice has demonstrated that the expression of the HBV 2.1 kb RNAs is largely restricted to hepatocytes. In this study, the presence of a functional HNF3 transcription factor binding site located between -231 and -240 in the major surface antigen promoter suggests that the in vivo liver-restricted expression of the 2.1 kb RNAs may be governed by this liver-enriched transcription factor. The identification of a functional HNF3 binding site upstream of the DNA polymerase open reading frame also supports the contention that transient transfection analysis may fail to detect all of the cis-acting regulatory sequence elements involved in modulating the level of transcription from the viral promoters.

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