HBV X protein alters the DNA binding specificity of CREB and ATF-2 by protein-protein interactions

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Science  10 May 1991:
Vol. 252, Issue 5007, pp. 842-844
DOI: 10.1126/science.1827531


The hepatitis B virus (HBV) X gene product trans-activates viral and cellular genes. The X protein (pX) does not bind independently to nucleic acids. The data presented here demonstrate that pX entered into a protein-protein complex with the cellular transcriptional factors CREB and ATF-2 and altered their DNA binding specificities. Although CREB and ATF-2 alone did not bind to the HBV enhancer element, a pX-CREB or pX-ATF-2 complex did bind to the HBV enhancer. Thus, the ability of pX to interact with cellular factors broadened the DNA binding specificity of these regulatory proteins and provides a mechanism for pX to participate in transcriptional regulation. This strategy of altered binding specificity may modify the repertoire of genes that can be regulated by transcriptional factors during viral infection.