1. Hainan Provincial Key Laboratory of Carcinogenesis and Intervention, Hainan Medical College, Haikou 571199, Hainan Province, PR. China
2. Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Hainan Medical College, Haikou 571199, PR. China
3. Department of Pathophysiology, Hainan Medical College, Haikou 571199, Hainan Province, PR. China
4. Institution of Tumor, Hainan Medical College, Haikou 570102, Hainan Province, PR. China.
*These authors contribute equally to this work and are co-first authors.
Background: The infection of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is closely associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma(HCC), HBV-X protein(HBx) is able to induce expression of alpha-fetoprotein(AFP) in normal liver cells, and AFP harbors a function to promote malignant transformation of normal liver cells, but the role AFP playing in malignant behaviors of HCC cells is still unclear.
Methods: Fifty-six liver tissue samples were collected from the clinical patients through hepatectomy(include normal liver tissues, HBV-related hepatitis liver tissues and HBV-related HCC tissues), and diagnosis of these tissues by pathology section, expression of AFP, Ras and CXCR4 were evidenced by immunohisochemical staining and Western blotting; The proliferation of human normal liver cells line L-02 cells and human hepatoma cells line, HLE cells(non AFP-producing) were performed by MTT method; Repaired capacity of L-02 and HLE cells were compared by wound healing assay; Migration and invasion of these cells were analyzed by Transwell chamber assay; HBx expressed vectors(pcDNA3.1-HBx) were constructed and transfected into L-02 and HLE cells, effects of pcDNA3.1-HBx on the malignant behaviors were also detected by MTT, Transwell chamber assay and the expression of AFP, Ras and CXCR4 were evidenced by Western blotting.
Results: we found that expression of AFP, Ras and CXCR4 in HBV-related HCC and lymph nodes metastasis tissues were significantly elevated compared with HBV-related HCC, non metastasis tissues and HBV-related hepatitis tissues; Expression of AFP, Ras and CXCR4 in HBV-related hepatitis tissues were significantly enhanced compared with normal liver tissues; The growth ratio, migratory and invasive ability, expression of AFP, Ras and CXCR4 of the cells were outstanding promoted while L-02 and HLE cells were transfected with pcDNA3.1-HBx vectors. The proliferation ratio, migration and invasion ability, and expression of Ras and CXCR4 were significantly inhibited while L-02-X and HLE-X cells(stably transfected with pcDNA3.1-HBx) were silenced AFP expression by AFP-siRNA.
Conclusions: HBx through stimulating expression of AFP to promote malignant behaviors of human normal liver cells and HCC cells; AFP maybe used as a novel biotarget for therapeutics of HCC patients.
Keywords: Hepatitis B virus X protein(HBx), Alpha fetoprotein(AFP), Hepatocarcinogenesis, Malignant behaviors.