Hepatitis B Virus Inhibits Apoptosis of Hepatoma Cells by Sponging the MicroRNA 15a/16 Cluster.

TitleHepatitis B Virus Inhibits Apoptosis of Hepatoma Cells by Sponging the MicroRNA 15a/16 Cluster.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsLiu N, Zhang J, Jiao T, Li Z, Peng J, Cui Z, Ye X
JournalJournal of virology
Date Published2013 Dec

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes chronic hepatitis in hundreds of millions of people worldwide, which can eventually lead to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The molecular mechanisms underlying HBV persistence are not well understood. In this study, we found that HBV inhibited the chemotherapy drug etoposide-induced apoptosis of hepatoma cells. Further analysis revealed that HBV mRNAs possess a microRNA 15a/16 (miR-15a/16)-complementary site (HBV nucleotides [nt] 1362 to 1383) that acts as a sponge to bind and sequester endogenous miR-15a/16. Consequently, Bcl-2, known as the target of miR-15a/16, was upregulated in HBV-infected cells. The data from HBV-transgenic mice further confirmed that HBV transcripts cause the reduction of miR-15a/16 and increase of Bcl-2. More importantly, we examined the levels of HBV transcripts and miR-15a/16 in HBV-infected HCC from patients and found that the amount of HBV mRNA and the level of miR-15a/16 were negatively correlated. Consistently, the level of Bcl-2 mRNA was upregulated in HBV-infected patients. In conclusion, we identified a novel HBV mRNA-miR-15a/16-Bcl-2 regulatory pathway that is involved in inhibiting etoposide-induced apoptosis of hepatoma cells, which may contribute to facilitating chronic HBV infection and hepatoma development.

Alternate JournalJ. Virol.