Inhibition of secretion of hepatitis B surface antigen by a related presurface polypeptide

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Science  12 Dec 1986:
Vol. 234, Issue 4782, pp. 1388-1391
DOI: 10.1126/science.3787251


The presurface (preS) proteins of hepatitis B virus are structural components of the viral envelope that may play important roles in virion assembly and infectivity. They are specified by a large open reading frame that includes the coding region for the major surface (S) protein in its 3' half. Translation of the preS proteins initiates upstream from the S region, giving rise to proteins that are composed of the S domain and an additional 163 (preS1) or 55 (preS2) amino acids. Little is known about the biosynthesis and assembly of these proteins. The expression of the S and preS1 proteins was examined by transfecting cultured mammalian cells with viral DNA and injecting synthetic messenger RNA's into Xenopus oocytes. In contrast to the proteins encoded by the S region, the preS1 proteins are not detectably secreted into the culture medium. Furthermore, when the S and preS1 proteins are synthesized together, secretion of the S proteins is specifically and strongly inhibited. The results suggest a unique molecular interaction during secretion of the S and preS proteins that may be important for virus assembly.

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