Activities of the hepadnavirus polymerases are known to include those of DNA polymerase, reverse transcriptase and RNase H. To date, it has been difficult or impossible to clone and express the product as an active enzyme. In this study, full length capped RNA encoding Duck Hepatitis B Virus (DHBV) polymerase was produced by in vitro transcription from a T7 promoter. The RNA was translated in a rabbit reticulocyte lysate system and produced an 35S-Methionine labelled 79 Kd band on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The translation product showed DNA polymerase and reverse transcriptase activities on exogenous templates (respectively) of DNA or RNA with random DNA hexamer primers. The same RNA transcripts were also microinjected into Xenopus oocytes, but appeared to be toxic and gave no detectable translation product. Production of hepadnavirus polymerase by in vitro transcription/translation may provide a useful tool for structure/function and pharmacological studies on this important group of polymerases.
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