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Gastroenterology. 2010 Dec;139(6):2183-2194.e5. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2010.06.049. Epub 2010 Jun 20.

Increased expression of iASPP, regulated by hepatitis B virus X protein-mediated NF-κB activation, in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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International Joint Cancer Institute, The Second Military Medical University, Shanghai, China.



iASPP is an inhibitory member of the ankyrin-repeat-, SH3-domain- and proline-rich-region-containing protein (ASPP) family; iASPP expression is up-regulated in different human tumor types. We explored the molecular mechanism increased expression of iASPP and its role in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).


iASPP expression levels in human liver samples and cell lines were determined by polymerase chain reaction, immunoblot, and immunohistochemical analyses. Luciferase reporter, chromatin immunoprecipitation, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays were used to measure transcriptional activation by nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB). Effects on tumor growth were characterized with MTS, soft agar colony formation, and flow cytometry analyses. Tumorigenicity of cells was studied in nude mice.


Compared with normal liver cells or tissues, iASPP was expressed at significantly higher levels in HCC cell lines (9/14) and liver samples from patients with HCC, cirrhosis, or hepatitis B virus infection. Increased expression of iASPP was significantly associated with time to recurrence and survival time of patients with HCC. NF-κB activation increased the expression of iASPP through p65/p50 binding to a putative NF-κB-binding site in the iASPP promoter; hepatitis B virus X gene product might up-regulate expression of iASPP. Transgenic expression of iASPP promoted tumor cell proliferation and resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs in vitro and in vivo.


iASPP is up-regulated in HCC; it is a direct transcription target of NF-κB. Increased iASPP expression contributes to tumor progression by proliferative and antiapoptotic effects. iASPP might be developed as an HCC therapeutic target or to sensitize cancer cells to chemotherapeutic drugs; it might also be used as a prognostic factor.

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