Investigation of interaction between hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) and NF-kB pathway in carcinoma cells
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes an estimated 600,000 deaths annually, largely due to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HBx, a promiscuous transactivator, is a viral oncoprotein, but its exact functions are poorly understood. Many studies have suggested that NF-κB signaling mediates HBx functions, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain yet to be elucidated. Here, we provide evidence that HBx-mediated NF-κB activation depends on the physical interaction between HBx and a transcription factor, p65. In the cytoplasm, HBx-p65 interaction may promote IκBα phosphorylation and subsequent p65 nuclear localization. A cytokine assay using qPCR and RT-PCR indicates that HBx is associated with a unique profile of cytokine mRNA expression. As shown by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP), HBx in the nuclues can be recruited to the gene promoter by p65. These findings support the importance of HBx-p65 interaction and suggest that it is potentially a promising target of novel therapeutics for HBV-associated liver diseases, including HCC.