The delta antigen is the only known protein encoded by hepatitis delta virus (HDV). The predicted protein is 195 amino acids in length, but for reasons that are not yet clear, there occurs during the replication of the HDV genome, a specific base change in the termination codon of this open reading frame. This leads to the synthesis of a form of the delta antigen that is 19 amino acids longer, with a total length of 214 amino acids. Studies are described which relate to the roles of these two forms of the delta antigen in genome replication and subsequent particle assembly.
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