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J Virol. 2015 Feb;89(4):2041-51. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03106-14. Epub 2014 Nov 26.

Hepatitis B virus core protein sensitizes hepatocytes to tumor necrosis factor-induced apoptosis by suppression of the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7.

Author information

1
Key Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Immunology, Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China.
2
Department of General Surgery, Sixth People's Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
3
Department of Infectious Diseases, Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine, Shanghai, China.
4
Key Laboratory of Molecular Virology and Immunology, Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China dengqiang@sibs.ac.cn lanke@sibs.ac.cn.

Abstract

Hepatitis B, which caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, remains a major health threat worldwide. Hepatic injury and regeneration from chronic inflammation are the main driving factors of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in chronic hepatitis B. Proinflammatory tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) has been implicated as a major inducer of liver cell death during viral hepatitis. Here, we report that in hepatoma cell lines and in primary mouse and human hepatocytes, expression of hepatitis B virus core (HBc) protein made cells susceptible to TNF-α-induced apoptosis. We found by tandem affinity purification and mass spectrometry that receptor of activated protein kinase C 1 (RACK1) interacted with HBc. RACK1 was recently reported as a scaffold protein that facilitates the phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase 7 (MKK7) by its upstream activators. Our study showed that HBc abrogated the interaction between MKK7 and RACK1 by competitively binding to RACK1, thereby downregulating TNF-α-induced phosphorylation of MKK7 and the activation of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK). In line with this finding, specific knockdown of MKK7 increased the sensitivity of hepatocytes to TNF-α-induced apoptosis, while overexpression of RACK1 counteracted the proapoptotic activity of HBc. Capsid particle formation was not obligatory for HBc proapoptotic activity, as analyzed using an assembly-defective HBc mutant. In conclusion, the expression of HBc sensitized hepatocytes to TNF-α-induced apoptosis by disrupting the interaction between MKK7 and RACK1. Our study is thus the first indication of the pathogenic effects of HBc in liver injury during hepatitis B.

IMPORTANCE:

Our study revealed a previously unappreciated role of HBc in TNF-α-mediated apoptosis. The proapoptotic activity of HBc is important for understanding hepatitis B pathogenesis. In particular, HBV variants associated with severe hepatitis may upregulate apoptosis of hepatocytes through enhanced HBc expression. Our study also found that MKK7 is centrally involved in TNF-α-induced hepatocyte apoptosis and revealed a multifaceted role for JNK signaling in this process.

PMID:
25428880
PMCID:
PMC4338861
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.03106-14
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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