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

X gene-related sequences in the core gene of duck and heron hepatitis B viruses.

The genomes of all known mammalian hepadnaviruses contain an open reading frame (ORF), designated X, located just upstream from the gene encoding the major viral nucleocapsid polypeptide. This gene is believed to have one or more roles central to the life cycle of these viruses. Consequently, it is surprising that avian hepadnaviruses appear to lack this ORF. However, the observation that the size and position of the core gene in the duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) genome and the heron hepatitis B virus (HHBV) genome is comparable to the combined X and core genes of the mammalian hepadnaviruses suggests that X function(s) may be performed by the major nucleocapsid polypeptide of DHBV and HHBV. Computer-assisted analyses were carried out to test the hypothesis that the primary and secondary structural characteristics of the X gene product are also present in the major core gene product of the duck (DHBcAg) and heron (HHBcAg) viruses. Primary sequence comparison of the major core-associated polypeptides encoded by the avian and mammalian hepadnaviruses demonstrates considerable homology at both the amino- and carboxyl-terminal regions of these components. However, the middle portion of the DHBcAg and HHBcAg polypeptide, spanning about half the molecule, is unique. Comparison of this region with the carboxyl-terminal half of the X gene sequences from mammalian hepadnaviruses demonstrates similarities in both primary sequence and secondary structural characteristics. These results suggest that X-like gene product sequences are present in the core gene products of DHBV and HHBV. In addition, a sequence of about two dozen residues at the amino terminus of the mammalian X gene product, overlapping the polymerase gene product, is found in the corresponding position in DHBV. This is consistent with the conclusion that the relationship between the DHBV and HHBV core genes compared to the X and core genes of the mammalian hepadnaviruses may be explained by one or more translocations in the this region of the viral genome. The previous finding of X antigen determinants associated with one or more core-related polypeptides in the mammalian hepadnaviruses, combined with the results of this study, suggests that X gene product function is conserved among these viruses.[1]


  1. X gene-related sequences in the core gene of duck and heron hepatitis B viruses. Feitelson, M.A., Miller, R.H. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1988) [Pubmed]
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