A Cellular Homolog of Hepatitis Delta Antigen: Implications for Viral Replication and Evolution

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Science  04 Oct 1996:
Vol. 274, Issue 5284, pp. 90-94
DOI: 10.1126/science.274.5284.90


Hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is a pathogenic human virus whose RNA genome and replication cycle resemble those of plant viroids. However, viroid genomes contain no open reading frames, whereas HDV RNA encodes a single protein, hepatitis delta antigen (HDAg), which is required for viral replication. A cellular gene whose product interacts with HDAg has now been identified, and this interaction was found to affect viral genomic replication in intact cells. DNA sequence analysis revealed that this protein, termed delta-interacting protein A (DIPA), is a cellular homolog of HDAg. These observations demonstrate that a host gene product can modulate HDV replication and suggest that HDV may have evolved from a primitive viroidlike RNA through capture of a cellular transcript.