1. Department of General Surgery, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China;
2. Department of Infectious Diseases, Huashan Hospital, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China;
3. The State Key Laboratory of Genetics Engineering, Fudan University, Shanghai 200433, China.
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a common worldwide malignancy with high morbidity and mortality. Hepatitis B viral (HBV)-encoded X protein (HBx) and natural HBx variants play important roles in HBV-associated HCC development. HBx is an unstable protein that can be degraded in vivo. Our previous study found that the E3 ubiquitin ligase Siah-1 could target HBx for poly-ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation and attenuate the transcriptional activity of HBx. However, in HCC patients, high expression levels of HBx and HBx variants are frequently observed and are associated with HCC progression. The mechanism underlying their up-regulation is largely unknown. In this study, we screened for Siah-1 mutations in 270 HCC samples and 9 HCC cell lines, and examined Siah-1 mRNA and protein expression in a subset of paired HCC specimens. Our results demonstrate that Siah-1 is highly conserved, as no somatic mutation was identified, with the exception of one synonymous transition from G to A at codon 67. Both the mRNA and protein levels of Siah-1 were significantly down-regulated in HCC tissues compared with their adjacent normal counterparts. We constructed three natural HBx truncates that were identified in our HCC cases. We found that Siah-1 failed to decrease the stability of these HBx variants and was unable to inhibit the transcriptional activity of these HBx truncates at heat shock elements (HSEs). Moreover, Siah-1 had weaker association with three HBx mutants than full length HBx. Therefore, our findings suggest that down-regulation of Siah-1, but not its mutations, and natural HBx variants resistant to Siah-1-induced degradation may be a novel mechanism for HCC development.
Keywords: hepatocellular carcinoma, HBx, Siah-1, ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation, HBx truncates.