Background & aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) causes progressive liver disease and is a major risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the role of infection in HCC pathogenesis is poorly understood. We investigated the effect(s) of HCV infection and viral glycoprotein expression on hepatoma biology to gain insights into the development of HCV associated HCC.
Methods: We assessed the effect(s) of HCV and viral glycoprotein expression on hepatoma polarity, migration and invasion.
Results: HCV glycoproteins perturb tight and adherens junction protein expression, and increase hepatoma migration and expression of epithelial to mesenchymal transition markers Snail and Twist via stabilizing hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α). HIF-1α regulates many genes involved in tumor growth and metastasis, including vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β). Neutralization of both growth factors shows different roles for VEGF and TGFβ in regulating hepatoma polarity and migration, respectively. Importantly, we confirmed these observations in virus infected hepatoma and primary human hepatocytes. Inhibition of HIF-1α reversed the effect(s) of infection and glycoprotein expression on hepatoma permeability and migration and significantly reduced HCV replication, demonstrating a dual role for HIF-1α in the cellular processes that are deregulated in many human cancers and in the viral life cycle.
Conclusions: These data provide new insights into the cancer-promoting effects of HCV infection on HCC migration and offer new approaches for treatment.
Copyright Â© 2011 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.