Hepatitis B viral core protein disrupts human host gene expression by binding to promoter regions
BACKGROUND:The core protein (HBc) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) has been implicated in the malignant transformation of chronically-infected hepatocytes and displays pleiotropic functions, including RNA- and DNA-binding activities. However, the mechanism by which HBc interacts with the human genome to exert effects on hepatocyte function remains unknown. This study investigated the distribution of HBc binding to promoters in the human genome and evaluated its effects on the related genes' expression.RESULTS:Whole-genome chromatin immunoprecipitation microarray (ChIP-on-chip) analysis was used to identify HBc-bound human gene promoters. Gene Ontology and pathway analyses were performed on related genes. The quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay was used to verify ChIP-on-chip results. Five novel genes were selected for luciferase reporter assay evaluation to assess the influence of HBc promoter binding. The HBc antibody immunoprecipitated approximately 3100 human gene promoters. Among these, 1993 are associated with known biological processes, and 2208 regulate genes with defined molecular functions. In total, 1286 of the related genes mediate primary metabolic processes, and 1398 encode proteins with binding activity. Sixty-four of the promoters regulate genes related to the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways, and 41 regulate Wnt/beta-catenin pathway genes. The reporter gene assay indicated that HBc binding up-regulates proto-oncogene tyrosine-protein kinase (SRC), type 1 insulin-like growth factor receptor (IGF1R), and neurotrophic tyrosine kinase receptor 2 (NTRK2), and down-regulates v-Ha-ras Harvey rat sarcoma viral oncogene (HRAS).CONCLUSION:HBc has the ability to bind a large number of human gene promoters, and can disrupt normal host gene expression. Manipulation of the transcriptional profile in HBV-infected hepatocytes may represent a key pathogenic mechanism of HBV infection.