Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA was found to be integrated into seven sites in the DNA of the PLC/PRF/5 hepatoma cell line as determined by digestion with the restriction endonuclease dIII which does not cut through the viral genome. The integration pattern was stable in the cell line, in tumours induced in athymic mice by this line and in cell lines derived from such tumours. Syntheses of hepatitis B surface antigen and alphafoetoprotein were maintained in the induced tumours and derived cell lines. A defective HBV DNA molecule (approx. 2.8 kilobase pairs) appears to be integrated in a head-to-tail tandem arrangement and it is proposed that such defective molecules may be involved in the process of neoplastic transformation by HBV.


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