The genetic origin, structure, and biochemical properties of the delta antigen (HDAg) of a human hepatitis delta virus (HDV) were investigated. A cDNA fragment containing the open reading frame encoding the HDAg was transcribed into RNA and used for in vitro translation in rabbit reticulocyte lysates. The HDAg open reading frame was also inserted into an expression vector containing a simian virus 40 T-antigen promoter and expressed into COS 7 cells. In both systems, a protein species of 26 kilodaltons was synthesized from this open reading frame and could be specifically immunoprecipitated with antisera obtained from patients with delta hepatitis. A similar protein was also synthesized from antigenomic-sense monomeric HDV RNA in both systems, although the efficiency of translation was lower than that of the isolated open reading frame. This protein was found to be phosphorylated at the serine residues. Immunoperoxidase studies with anti-HDV sera demonstrated that the HDAg was expressed mainly in the nuclei of the transfected COS 7 cells. Moreover, the HDAg was shown to bind the genomic RNA of HDV. These studies indicate that HDAg is encoded by the antigenomic-sense RNA of HDV and is a nuclear phosphoprotein associated with an RNA-binding activity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science