Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection can cause hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Several hypotheses have been proposed to explain the mechanisms of HBV tumorigenesis, including inflammation and liver regeneration associated with cytotoxic immune injuries and transcriptional activators of mutant HBV gene products. The mutant viral oncoprotein-driven tumorigenesis is prevailed at the advanced stage or anti-HBe-positive phase of chronic HBV infection. Besides HBx, the pre-S2 (deletion) mutant protein represents a newly recognized oncoprotein that is accumulated in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and manifests as type II ground glass hepatocytes (GGH). The retention of pre-S2 mutant protein in ER can induce ER stress and initiate an ER stress-dependent VEGF/Akt/mTOR and NFκB/ COX-2 signal pathway. Additionally, the pre-S2 mutant large surface protein can induce an ER stress-independent pathway to transactivate JAB-1/p27/RB/cyclin A,D pathway, leading to growth advantage of type II GGH. The pre-S2 mutant protein-induced ER stress can also cause DNA damage, centrosome overduplication, and genomic instability. In 5-10% of type II GGHs, there is co-expression of pre-S2 mutant protein and HBx antigen which exhibited enhanced oncogenic effects in transgenic mice. The mTOR signal cascade is consistently activated throughout the course of pre-S2 mutant transgenic livers and in human HCC tissues, leading to metabolic disorders and HCC tumorigenesis. Clinically, the presence of pre-S2 deletion mutants in sera frequently develop resistance to nucleoside analogues anti-virals and predict HCC development. The pre-S2 deletion mutants and type II GGHs therefore represent novel biomarkers of HBV-related HCCs. A versatile DNA array chip has been developed to detect pre-S2 mutants in serum. Overall, the presence of pre-S2 mutants in serum has implications for anti-viral treatment and can predict HCC development. Targeting at pre-S2 mutant protein-induced, ER stress-dependent, mTOR signal cascade and metabolic disorders may offer potential strategy for chemoprevention or therapy in high risk chronic HBV carriers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Biochemistry
- Cell Biology
- Biochemistry, medical
- Pharmacology (medical)