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Stabilization of E2-EPF UCP protein is implicated in hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocellular carcinoma progression

Lim, Jung Hwa, Kim, Dae-Ghon, Yu, Dae-Yeul, Kang, Hyun Mi, Noh, Kyung Hee, Kim, Dae-Soo, Park, Dongmin, Chang, Tae Kyung, Im, Dong-Soo, Jung, Cho-Rok
Cellular and molecular life sciences 2019 v.76 no.13 pp. 2647-2662
Hepatitis B virus, catalytic activity, cell proliferation, enzyme activity, hepatitis B, hepatoma, hypoxia-inducible factor 1, liver, metastasis, mice, serotypes, tissues, ubiquitin, ubiquitination
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) X protein (HBx) is associated with hepatocarcinogenesis. E2-EPF ubiquitin carrier protein (UCP) catalyzes ubiquitination of itself and von Hippel–Lindau protein (pVHL) for degradation and associates with tumor growth and metastasis. However, it remains unknown whether HBx modulates the enzyme activity of UCP and thereby influences hepatocarcinogenesis. Here, we show that UCP is highly expressed in liver tissues of HBx-transgenic mice, but not non-transgenic mice. UCP was more frequently expressed in HBV-positive liver cancers than in HBV-negative liver cancers. HBx binds to UCP specifically and serotype independently, and forms a ternary complex with UCP and pVHL. HBx inhibits self-ubiquitination of UCP, but enhances UCP-mediated pVHL ubiquitination, resulting in stabilization of hypoxia-inducible factor-1α and -2α. HBx and UCP stabilize each other by mutually inhibiting their ubiquitination. HBx promotes cellular proliferation and metastasis via UCP. Our findings suggest that UCP plays a key role in HBV-related hepatocarcinogenesis.