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Alternative Processing of Hepatitis Delta Virus Antigenomic RNA Transcripts

  • Xingcao Nie
  • Jinhong Chang
  • John M. Taylor
American Society for Microbiology
Publication Date
May 01, 2004
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Intrinsic to the life cycle of hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is the fact that its RNAs undergo different forms of posttranscriptional RNA processing. Transcripts of both the genomic RNA and its exact complement, the antigenomic RNA, undergo ribozyme cleavage and RNA ligation. In addition, antigenomic RNA transcripts can undergo 5′ capping, 3′ polyadenylation, and even RNA editing by an adenosine deaminase. This study focused on the processing of antigenomic RNA transcripts. Two approaches were used to study the relationship between the events of polyadenylation, ribozyme cleavage, and RNA ligation. The first represented an examination under more controlled conditions of mutations in the poly(A) signal, AAUAAA, which is essential for this processing. We found that when a separate stable source of δAg-S, the small delta protein, was provided, the replication ability of the mutated RNA was restored. The second approach involved an examination of the processing in transfected cells of specific Pol II DNA-directed transcripts of HDV antigenomic sequences. The DNA constructs used were such that the RNA transcripts were antigenomic and began at the same 5′ site as the mRNA produced during RNA-directed HDV genome replication. A series of such constructs was assembled in order to test the relative abilities of the transcripts to undergo processing by polyadenylation or ribozyme cleavage at sites further 3′ on a multimer of HDV sequences. The findings from the two experimental approaches led to significant modifications in the rolling-circle model of HDV genome replication.

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