The function of targeted host genes determines the oncogenicity of HBV integration in hepatocellular carcinoma

J Hepatol. 2014 May;60(5):975-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jhep.2013.12.014. Epub 2013 Dec 19.


Background & aims: Although hepatitis B virus (HBV) integration into the human genome has been considered as one of the major causative factors to hepatocarcinogenesis, the underlying mechanism(s) was still elusive. Here we investigate the essential difference(s) of HBV integration between HCC tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues and explore the factor(s) that determine the oncogenicity of HBV integration.

Methods: 1115 HBV integration sites were collected from four recent studies. Functional annotation analysis of integration targeted host genes (ITGs) was performed using DAVID based on Gene Ontology and KEGG pathway databases. Array-based expression profiles, real-time qPCR and western blot were used to detect the expression of recurrent integration targeted genes (RTGs). The biological consequences of the overexpression of UBXN8 in 8 HCC cell lines were studied in vitro.

Results: HBV is prone to integrate in genic regions (exons, introns, and promoters) and gene-dense regions. Functional annotation analysis reveals that, compared to those in adjacent non-tumor tissues, ITGs in HCC tumor tissues were significantly enriched in functional terms related to negative regulation of cell death, transcription regulation, development and differentiation, and cancer related pathways. 32% of the 75 RTGs identified in this analysis expressed abnormally in HCC tissues. UBXN8, one of the RTGs, was identified as a new tumor suppressor candidate which functions in a TP53 dependent manner.

Conclusions: The oncogenicity of HBV integration was determined, to some extend by the function of HBV integration targeted host genes in HCC.

Keywords: Functional annotation analysis; HBV integration; Hepatitis B virus; Hepatocellular carcinoma; UBXN8.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / virology*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Viral / genetics
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Genes, p53
  • Genome, Human
  • Hep G2 Cells
  • Hepatitis B virus / genetics*
  • Hepatitis B virus / pathogenicity*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / genetics
  • Humans
  • Liver / virology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / virology*
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Virus Integration / genetics*


  • Proteins
  • UBXN8 protein, human