Induction of the DNA-binding activity of c-Jun/c-Fos heterodimers by the hepatitis B virus transactivator pX

Gioacchino Natoli, Maria Laura Avantaggiati, Paolo Chirillo, Antonio Costanzo, Marco Artini, Clara Balsano, Massimo Levrero

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The hepatitis B virus (HBV) X protein (pX) is capable of activating transcription regulated by viral and cellular promoters containing binding sites for different transcription factors, including AP1. In this study we have analyzed the mechanisms of AP1 induction by pX. The hepatitis B virus transactivator was able to activate TRE (12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13- acetate response element)-directed transcription in different cell lines, including HepG2, HeLa, CV1, and PLC/PRF/5 cells. pX-induced AP1 activation in HepG2 cells was associated with an increase in the DNA-binding activity of c- Jun/c-Fos heterodimers, which was not dependent either on an increase in the overall amount of c-Fos and c-Jun proteins in the cells or on formation of dimers between pX and the two proteins, thus suggesting the involvement of posttranslational modifications of the transcription factor. The observation that the overexpression of c-Jun and c-Fos in the cells results in a strong augmentation of the effect of pX on TRE-directed transcription is additional evidence indicating the involvement of posttranscriptional modifications of c-Jun/c-Fos heterodimers. The increased AP1 binding observed in the presence of pX was unaffected by the protein kinase C inhibitors calphostin C and sphingosine and by the protein kinase A inhibitor HA1004, while it was almost completely blocked by staurosporine, a potent and nonspecific protein kinase inhibitor, suggesting that protein kinase C- and A-independent phosphorylation events might play a role in the phenomenon. The ability of pX also to increase TRE-directed transcription in cell lines in which AP1- binding activity is not increased (i.e., HeLa, CV1, and PLC/PRF/5 cells) suggests that pX can activate canonical TRE sites by different mechanisms as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)989-998
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Genetics
  • Molecular Biology


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