It has been demonstrated that the hepatocyte nuclear factor 1 (HNF1) binding site is critical for the majority of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) large surface antigen promoter activity in differentiated hepatoma cell lines. Examination of a series of clustered point mutations in the minimal large surface antigen promoter demonstrated that the HNF1 and TATA box binding sites are the major regulatory elements required for transcription from this promoter. Synthetic promoter constructs containing the large surface antigen promoter HNF1 binding site and TATA box element upstream of the luciferase open reading frame were tested for their transcriptional activities in HepG2.1 cells in the absence or presence of an HNF1 expression vector. These synthetic promoter constructs displayed a similar level of transcriptional activity and induction by HNF1 in comparison with the full-length large surface antigen promoter, suggesting that additional HBV sequences are dispensable for full transcriptional activity. The distance between the HNF1 binding site and TATA box element in the synthetic promoter constructs appeared to influence the transcriptional activity modestly and in a periodic manner.


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