The hepatitis B virus posttranscriptional regulatory element (HBVPRE) is a cis-acting RNA element that partially overlaps with enhancer I and is required for the cytoplasmic accumulation of HBV surface RNAs. We find that the closely related woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV), which has been shown to lack a functional enhancer I, also contains a posttranscriptional regulatory element (WPRE). Deletion analysis suggests that the WPRE consists of three independent subelements. Comparison of the bipartite HBVPRE and tripartite WPRE activities reveals that the tripartite WPRE is two to three times more active than the bipartite HBVPRE. Mutation of a single WPRE subelement decreases WPRE activity to the level of the HBVPRE. Bipartite and tripartite chimeras of the WPRE and HBVPRE possess activities which suggest that elements containing three subelements are posttranscriptionally stronger than those containing two. These data demonstrate that the posttranscriptional regulatory element is conserved within the mammalian hepadnaviruses and that its strength is determined by the number of subelements within the RNA.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science