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Mitochondrion. 2002 Feb;1(4):349-59.

Characterization of the mitochondrial association of hepatitis B virus X protein, HBx.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado, OH, USA.


Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is strongly associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HBx, a protein encoded by HBV is believed to contribute to the development of HCC. HBx was recently shown to associate with mitochondria. In this study, we mapped region(s) of HBx necessary for mitochondrial targeting and showed that a putative transmembrane region (aa 54-70) is required for mitochondrial association. In addition, amino acids in the putative alpha helical regions (aa 75-88 and aa 109-131) seem to aid in the mitochondrial targeting of this protein. We further show that the majority of HBx localizes to the outer mitochondrial membrane based on its sensitivity to trypsin and resistance to alkaline treatment. These studies suggest that the association of HBx with the outer mitochondrial membrane is its intrinsic property. These characterizations define transmembrane and alpha-helical regions of this viral protein as domains of mitochondrial targeting. These studies are further useful in the investigations concerning the physiological significance of the HBx's association with mitochondria and its impact on liver disease pathogenesis.

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