Abstract

Two transgenic mice were obtained that contain in their chromosomes the complete hepatitis B virus (HBV) genome except for the core gene. These mice secrete particles of HBV surface antigen (HBsAg) in the serum. In one mouse, HBV DNA sequences that had integrated at two different sites were shown to segregate independently in the first filial generation (F1) and only one of the sequences allowed expression of the surface antigen. Among these animals the males produced five to ten times more HBsAg than the females. A 2.1-kilobase messenger RNA species comigrating with the major surface gene messenger RNA is expressed specifically in the liver in the two original mice. The results suggest that the HBV sequences introduced into the mice are able to confer a tissue-specific expression to the S gene. In addition, the HBV transgenic mice represent a new model for the chronic carrier state of hepatitis B virus infection.

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