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Neoplasia. 2010 Feb;12(2):103-15.

A mutant of hepatitis B virus X protein (HBxDelta127) promotes cell growth through a positive feedback loop involving 5-lipoxygenase and fatty acid synthase.

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Department of Cancer Research, Key Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Technology of Ministry of Education, Institute for Molecular Biology, College of Life Sciences, Nankai University, Tianjin, PR China.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most common malignant tumors worldwide. Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) contributes to the development of HCC, whereas HBx with COOH-terminal deletion is a frequent event in the HCC tissues. Previously, we identified a natural mutant of HBx-truncated 27 amino acids at the COOH-terminal (termed HBxDelta127), which strongly enhanced cell growth. In the present study, we focused on investigating the mechanism. Accordingly, fatty acid synthase (FAS) plays a crucial role in cancer cell survival and proliferation; thus, we examined the signaling pathways involving FAS. Our data showed that HBxDelta127 strongly increased the transcriptional activities of FAS in human hepatoma HepG2 and H7402 cells. Moreover, we found that 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) was responsible for the up-regulation of FAS by using MK886 (an inhibitor of 5-LOX) and 5-LOX small interfering RNA. We observed that HBxDelta127 could upregulate 5-LOX through phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated protein kinases 1/2 and thus resulted in the increase of released leukotriene B4 (LTB4, a metabolite of 5-LOX) by ELISA. The additional LTB4 could upregulate the expression of FAS in the cells as well. Interestingly, we found that FAS was able to upregulate the expression of 5-LOX in a feedback manner by using cerulenin (an inhibitor of FAS). Collectively, HBxDelta127 promotes cell growth through a positive feedback loop involving 5-LOX and FAS, in which released LTB4 is involved in the up-regulation of FAS. Thus, our finding provides a new insight into the mechanism involving the promotion of cell growth mediated by HBxDelta127.

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