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PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22979. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022979. Epub 2011 Jul 29.

The X-linked tumor suppressor TSPX interacts and promotes degradation of the hepatitis B viral protein HBx via the proteasome pathway.

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Division of Cell and Developmental Genetics, Department of Medicine, Veterans Affairs Medical Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and it is a serious global health problem with two billion people exposed to it worldwide. HBx, an essential factor for viral replication and a putative oncoprotein encoded by the HBV genome, has been shown to promote oncogenic properties at multiple sites in HBV-infected liver cells. The expression level of HBx closely associates with the development and progression of HCC, therefore the mechanism(s) regulating the stability of HBx is important in oncogenesis of HBV-infected cells. We demonstrate that the X-linked tumor suppressor TSPX enhances the degradation of HBx through the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. TSPX interacts with both HBx and a proteasome 19S lid subunit RPN3 via its C-terminal acidic tail. Most importantly, over-expression of RPN3 protects HBx from, and hence acts as a negative regulator for, proteasome-dependent degradation. TSPX abrogates the RPN3-depedent stabilization of HBx, suggesting that TSPX and RPN3 act competitively in regulation of HBx stability. Since mutation and/or epigenetic repression of X-located tumor suppressor gene(s) could significantly predispose males to human cancers, our data suggest that TSPX-induced HBx degradation could play key role(s) in hepatocarcinogenesis among HBV-infected HCC patients.

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