Hepatitis B virus-encoded X protein (HBx) acts as a tumor promoter during hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, probably by regulating the expression of host proteins through protein–protein interaction. A proteomics approach was used to identify HBx-interacting proteins involved in HBx-induced hepatocarcinogenesis. We validated the proteomics findings by co-immunoprecipitation and confocal microscopy. We performed cell proliferation, migration assays and cell cycle analyses in HCC cells. Finally, we confirmed the clinical significance of our findings in samples from patients. We found that cortactin (CTTN) is a novel HBx-interacting protein, and HBx regulates the expression of CTTN in the HCC cell lines MHCC-LM3 and HepG2. Mechanistically, by upregulating the expression of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB1) and its downstream targets, such as cyclin D1 and MMP-9, the effects of the HBx-CTTN interaction on the enhancement of cellular proliferation and migration were maintained by inhibiting cell cycle arrest. In addition, we demonstrated that the levels of CTTN and CREB1 were closely correlated in clinical samples from HBV-infected patients with HCC. Overall, our data suggests that HBx contributes to cell migration and proliferation of HCC cells by interacting with CTTN and regulating the expression of CTTN and CREB1. Therefore, the HBx/CTTN/CREB1 axis is a potential novel therapeutic target in HCC.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research