This study investigated hepatitis B virus (HBV) single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and deletion mutations linked with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Ninety-three HCC patients and 108 non-HCC patients were enrolled for HBV genome-wide next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis. A systematic literature review and a meta-analysis were performed to validate NGS-defined HCC-associated SNVs and deletions. The experimental results identified 60 NGS-defined HCC-associated SNVs, including 41 novel SNVs, and their pathogenic frequencies. Each SNV was specific for either genotype B (n = 24) or genotype C (n = 34), except for nt53C, which was present in both genotypes. The pathogenic frequencies of these HCC-associated SNVs showed a distinct U-shaped distribution pattern. According to the meta-analysis and literature review, 167 HBV variants from 109 publications were categorized into four levels (A–D) of supporting evidence that they are associated with HCC. The proportion of NGS-defined HCC-associated SNVs among these HBV variants declined significantly from 75% of 12 HCC-associated variants by meta-analysis (Level A) to 0% of 10 HCC-unassociated variants by meta-analysis (Level D) (P < 0.0001). PreS deletions were significantly associated with HCC, in terms of deletion index, for both genotypes B (P = 0.030) and C (P = 0.049). For genotype C, preS deletions involving a specific fragment (nt2977–3013) were significantly associated with HCC (HCC versus non-HCC, 6/34 versus 0/32, P = 0.025). Meta-analysis of preS deletions showed significant association with HCC (summary odds ratio 3.0; 95% confidence interval 2.3–3.9). Transfection of Huh7 cells showed that all of the five novel NGS-defined HCC-associated SNVs in the small surface region influenced hepatocarcinogenesis pathways, including endoplasmic reticulum-stress and DNA repair systems, as shown by microarray, real-time polymerase chain reaction and western blot analysis. Their carcinogenic mechanisms are worthy of further research.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine