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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hepatitis B virus contains pre-S gene-encoded domains.

One of the open reading frames on hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA comprises the coding region (designated the env gene) for the virus envelope proteins. Studies on messenger RNA transcription suggest that this gene has the potential to code for three related proteins: (1) a protein of 226 amino acids identified as a major protein constituent of the HBV envelope, termed S-protein; (2) a protein with 55 additional amino acids at the N-terminal coded for by a portion of the env gene upstream of the S-gene (pre-S); (3) a protein corresponding to the entire env gene (pre-S + S). Synthetic peptides from the N-terminals of proteins (2) and (3), and antisera to them have been used to study the occurrence and properties of pre-S sequences. The results presented here provide unambiguous evidence that all three env encoded proteins are present in HBV particles; synthetic peptides corresponding to the gene encoding pre-S are highly immunogenic and can be used in diagnostic tests for detection in human sera of antibodies preferentially recognizing HBV; such antibodies, specific for pre-S determinants, are elicited during hepatitis B infection and by immunization with HBV proteins (2) and (3); the hepatitis B vaccine licensed in the United States does not contain pre-S proteins; and the pre-S proteins of the HBV envelope contain domains specifically recognized by liver cells. These findings suggest that pre-S determinants are important in virus-neutralizing responses and should be present in HBV vaccines.[1]


  1. Hepatitis B virus contains pre-S gene-encoded domains. Neurath, A.R., Kent, S.B., Strick, N., Taylor, P., Stevens, C.E. Nature (1985) [Pubmed]
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