Aim: To demonstrate the gene expression profiles mediated by hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx), we characterized the molecular features of pathogenesis associated with HBx in a human liver cell model.
Methods: We examined gene expression profiles in L-O2-X cells, an engineered L-O2 cell line that constitutively expresses HBx, relative to L-O2 cells using an Agilent 22 K human 70-mer oligonucleotide microarray representing more than 21,329 unique, well-characterized Homo sapiens genes. Western blot analysis and RNA interference (RNAi) targeting HBx mRNA validated the overexpression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) and Bcl-2 in L-O2-X cells. Meanwhile, the BrdU incorporation assay was used to test cell proliferation mediated by upregulated cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2).
Results: The microarray showed that the expression levels of 152 genes were remarkably altered; 82 of the genes were upregulated and 70 genes were downregulated in L-O2-X cells. The altered genes were associated with signal transduction pathways, cell cycle, metastasis, transcriptional regulation, immune response, metabolism, and other processes. PCNA and Bcl-2 were upregulated in L-O2-X cells. Furthermore, we found that COX-2 upregulation in L-O2-X cells enhanced proliferation using the BrdU incorporation assay, whereas indomethacin (an inhibitor of COX-2) abolished the promotion.
Conclusion: Our findings provide new evidence that HBx is able to regulate many genes that may be involved in the carcinogenesis. These regulated genes mediated by HBx may serve as molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.