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Virol Sin. 2015 Apr;30(2):85-91. doi: 10.1007/s12250-015-3582-7. Epub 2015 Apr 7.

Genetic and epigenetic alterations in hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Los Angeles, 90033, USA.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Its chronic infection can lead to chronic liver inflammation and the accumulation of genetic alterations to result in the oncogenic transformation of hepatocytes. HBV can also sensitize hepatocytes to oncogenic transformation by causing genetic and epigenetic changes of the host chromosomes. HBV DNA can insert into host chromosomes and recent large-scale whole-genome sequencing studies revealed recurrent HBV DNA integrations sites that may play important roles in the initiation of hepatocellular carcinogenesis. HBV can also cause epigenetic changes by altering the methylation status of cellular DNA, the post-translational modification of histones, and the expression of microRNAs. These changes can also lead to the eventual hepatocellular transformation. These recent findings on the genetic and epigenetic alterations of the host chromosomes induced by HBV opened a new avenue for the development of novel diagnosis and treatments for HBV-induced HCC.

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