A 1.7 kb cDNA encoding a novel antigen (p44; apparent 44K) associated with non-A, non-B (NANB) hepatitis, was isolated from the hepatic cDNA library of a chimpanzee infected with NANB hepatitis. The library was screened with a monoclonal antibody against this antigen. The cDNA cloned contained an open reading frame encoding a 444 amino acid protein with an calculated to be 50468. The cDNA hybridized to a 1.9 kb mRNA obtained from chimpanzee hepatocytes infected with either the NANB or hepatitis delta viruses. It hybridized weakly to mRNA from hepatitis B virus-infected hepatocytes, and not at all to mRNA from normal chimpanzee hepatocytes. Southern blot analysis revealed that p44 is a host protein in chimpanzees, and that an identical gene exists in the human genome.


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