Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(12):1783-1794. doi:10.7150/ijms.43491 This issue

Research Paper

HBx mediated Increase of SIRT1 Contributes to HBV-related Hepatocellular Carcinoma Tumorigenesis

Qing Wang*, Sheng-tao Cheng*, Juan Chen

Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology for Infectious Diseases, Chinese Ministry of Education, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing, 400016, China.
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

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Wang Q, Cheng St, Chen J. HBx mediated Increase of SIRT1 Contributes to HBV-related Hepatocellular Carcinoma Tumorigenesis. Int J Med Sci 2020; 17(12):1783-1794. doi:10.7150/ijms.43491. Available from

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Objective: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the main causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is strongly associated with HCC development, but the pathogenesis of HBV-related HCC remains obscure. Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) has been implicated to enhance the replication of HBV and to promote the tumorigenesis of HCC. In this study, we aim to investigate the functional role of SIRT1 on HBV viral protein and HBV-induced HCC.

Methods: Tumorous liver tissues from patient diagnosed with HBV-related HCC were collected and further divided into two groups (with or without metastasis). Then, the mRNA and protein level of SIRT1 in those tissues were detected by real time PCR and Western blot, respectively. Meanwhile, the protein level of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) relative markers in those tissues was determined by Western blot. Furthermore, the expression of SIRT1 in HBV-expressing HCC cells was examined. Next, the relationship between viral proteins and SIRT1 expression were determined by real time PCR and Western blot. In addition, the potential role of HBx-upregulated SIRT1 in HCC proliferation, migration and invasion were analyzed by cell viability assays, cell proliferation assay, wound healing assay, transwell assay and Western blot.

Results: In this study, we found that the expression of SIRT1 was obviously increased in patients with metastasis compared to the patients without metastasis. Consistently, the expression of SIRT1 was also upregulated in HBV-expressing HCC cells compared to the controls. Further investigation showed that viral protein HBx was responsible for the elevated SIRT1 in HBV-expressing HCC cells. Meanwhile, the expression of HBx could be upregulated by SIRT1. Additionally, functional studies showed that HBx-elevated SIRT1 could promote HCC cell proliferation, migration and invasion. Importantly, HBx induced HCC proliferation and migration could be suppressed by Nicotinamide in a dose dependent manner.

Conclusions: Our findings uncovered the positive role of SIRT1 in HBx-mediated tumorigenesis which implicated the potential role of SIRT1 in HBV-related HCC treatment.

Keywords: SIRT1, HBx, HCC, Metastasis.