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J Biol Chem. 2002 Mar 8;277(10):8730-40. Epub 2001 Dec 26.

Hepatitis B virus X protein differentially regulates cell cycle progression in X-transforming versus nontransforming hepatocyte (AML12) cell lines.

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  • 1Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47907-1246, USA.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) X protein (pX) is implicated in hepatocarcinogenesis of chronically infected HBV patients. To understand mechanism(s) of pX-mediated cellular transformation, we employed two tetracycline-regulated, pX-expressing cell lines, constructed in AML12 immortalized hepatocytes: one a differentiated (3pX-1) and the other a de-differentiated (4pX-1) hepatocyte cell line. Only 3pX-1 cells undergo pX-mediated transformation, via sustained Ras-Raf-mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway activation. pX-nontransforming 4pX-1 cells display sustained, pX-dependent JNK pathway activation. To understand how pX mediates different growth characteristics in 3pX-1 and 4pX-1 cells, we report, herein, comparative cell cycle analyses. pX-transforming 3pX-1 cells display pX-dependent G(1), S, and G(2)/M progression evidenced by cyclin D(1), A, and B(1) induction, and Cdc2 kinase activation. pX-nontransforming 4pX-1 cells display pX-dependent G(1) and S phase entry, followed by S phase pause and absence of Cdc2 kinase activation. Interestingly, 4pX-1 cells exhibit selective pX-induced expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p21(Cip1), tumor suppressor p19(ARF), and proapoptotic genes bax and IGFBP-3. Despite the pX-mediated induction of growth arrest and apoptotic genes and the absence of pX-dependent Cdc2 activation, 4pX-1 cells do not undergo pX-dependent G(2)/M arrest or apoptosis. Nocodazole-treated, G(2)/M-arrested 4pX-1 cells exhibit pX-dependent formation of multinucleated cells, similar to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type I Tax-expressing cells. We propose that in 4pX-1 cells, pX deregulates the G(2)/M checkpoint, thus rescuing cells from pX-mediated apoptosis.

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