1887

Abstract

The bidirectional activity of the precore/core promoter of hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been demonstrated in cultured cell lines. However, HBV antisense transcripts (asRNAs) have not been demonstrated . In the present study using liver tissue from patients with chronic hepatitis, an anchored 5′RACE mapping the 5′ ends at position 1680/1681, 1655 or 1609/1602 was carried out. In limited cases, RLM-3′RACE detected asRNAs to terminate at four or five consecutive dT residues in the 0·7 kb downstream region. PCR of oligo(dT)-primed cDNA did not amplify a typical polyadenylated asRNA. RT-PCR using various primers did not detect any spliced forms. Competitive RT-PCR estimated the copy numbers of the asRNAs to be 0·05–0·4 % of total sense RNAs. All sequenced asRNAs had ORF6 but, in one patient, the asRNA initiating at position 1680/1681 had additional initiation and termination codons in front of ORF6. Therefore, asRNAs are transcribed by RNA polymerase III at a low level, encompass a dispensable ORF6 gene and might be retained in the nucleus. The endogenous asRNAs complementary to the common ends of all sense RNAs suggest antisense-mediated self-regulation of hepadnavirus.

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2003-07-01
2021-01-26
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