Ground glass hepatocytes harboring hepatitis B virus (HBV) pre-S2 mutants have been recognized as pre-neoplastic lesions of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The pre-S2 mutants accumulated in endoplasmic reticulum (ER) can induce ER stress, upregulate cyclin A and promote hepatocyte proliferation. Notably, cyclin A was aberrantly detected in the cytoplasm, instead of nucleus, of pre-S2 mutant-transgenic mice livers, thereby raising the potential role of cytoplasmic cyclin A in HBV hepatocarcinogenesis. In this study, we confirmed that cyclin A was detected in the cytoplasm in the majority of HBV-related HCC tissues. In vitro, the pre-S2 mutant-initiated ER stress could induce cytoplasmic cyclin A mediated via cleavage by the calcium-dependent protease μ-calpain, resulting in an N-terminal truncated product which was preferentially located in the cytoplasm. The aberrant cyclin A expression subsequently induced centrosome overduplication, and this effect was abolished by calpain-specific inhibitors or RNA interference targeting to cyclin A. Overall, our data indicate that HBV pre-S2 mutant may elicit aberrant cyclin A expression and centrosome overduplication through ER stress induction and thereby represent a potential mechanism for the chromosome instability in HBV hepatocarcinogenesis.
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