C-terminal truncated hepatitis B virus X protein regulates tumorigenicity, self-renewal and drug resistance via STAT3/ Nanog signaling pathway

Rachel Hiu Ha Ching, Karen Man Fong Sze, Eunice Yuen Ting Lau, Yung Tuen Chiu, Joyce Man Fong Lee, Irene Oi Lin Ng, Kin Wah Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major risk factor of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Random integration of HBV DNA into the host genome is frequent in HCC leading to truncation of the HBV DNA, particularly at the C-terminal end of the HBV X protein (HBx). C-terminally truncated HBx (HBx-ΔC) has been implicated in playing a pro-oncogenic role in hepatocarcinogenesis. However, the mechanism whereby HBx-ΔC1 contributes to hepatocarcinogenesis remains unclear. In this study, we investigated the functional role of HBx-ΔC1 in regulating liver cancer stem cell (CSC) properties. Using Tet-on inducible system, we found that HBx-ΔC1 enhanced CSC properties including self-renewal, tumorigenicity, chemoresistance, migration and expression of liver CSC markers, when compared with the full-length HBx counterpart and vector control. Interestingly, HBx-ΔC1 conferred resistance in HCC cells towards sorafenib treatment through suppression of apoptotic cascade. In addition, HBx-ΔC1 upregulated a panel of stemness genes, in which Nanog was found to be among the most significant one in both trasnfected cell lines. Consistently, Nanog was upregulated in human HCC samples which had HBx-ΔC1 expression. Furthermore, the induction of CSC properties by HBx-ΔC1 was via the Stat3/Nanog pathway, as administration of Stat3 inhibitor abolished the HBx-ΔC1-induced self-renewing capacity. In conclusion, our data suggest that HBx-ΔC1 enhances liver CSCs properties through Stat3/Nanog cascade, and provide a new insight for the therapeutic intervention for HBV-related HCC.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23507-23516
Number of pages10
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • HCC
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma
  • Nanog
  • Stat3
  • Stemness
  • Truncated HBx

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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