Hepatitis B virus promotes proliferation and metastasis in male Chinese hepatocellular carcinoma patients through the LEF-1/miR-371a-5p/SRCIN1/pleiotrophin/Slug pathway

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a male-dominant cancer. Several factors may contribute to the gender difference. Recent investigations have reported that miRNAs are involved in sex-linked signaling pathways and play a critical role in the molecular pathogenesis of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-related HCC. Therefore, we speculated that some of these miRNAs might contribute to the gender differences observed in HBV-related HCC. Our results showed that miR-371a-5p was significantly upregulated in tumor tissue and serum from HCC patients and that the expression level of miR-371a-5p was related to HBV infection, sexuality, TNM stage, adjacent organ invasion and microvascular invasion. Moreover, a high level of miR-371a-5p expression predicted poor overall survival of HCC patients, and in vitro and in vivo studies revealed that the overexpression of miR-371a-5p promoted proliferation and metastasis. Mechanistic investigations suggested that miR-371a-5p was upregulated by HBV and testosterone through LEF-1. SRCIN1 was a direct target of miR-371a-5p and reversed the effects of miR-371a-5p on HCC tumorigenesis. Our results also revealed that SRCIN1 negatively regulated the expression of PTN by inhibiting the activity of NF-κB. As a hepatocyte growth factor, PTN promoted EMT-induced metastasis in vitro and in vivo through the AKT/Slug pathway. These data strongly suggested that the upregulation of miR-371a-5p played an important role in HBV-related HCC. Through the LEF-1/miR-371a-5p/SRCIN1/PTN/Slug pathway, HBV and testosterone promote the proliferation and metastasis of hepatoma cells, especially in male patients with HBV-related HCC.HIGHLIGHTSmiR-371a-5p is upregulated in HCC and related to HBV Infection, sexuality.The overexpression of miR-371a-5p predicted poor overall survival.miR-371a-5p promote the proliferation and metastasis of hepatoma cells.miR-371a-5p is upregulated by HBV and testosterone through LEF-1.miR-371a-5p through SRCIN1/NF-kB/PTN/Slug pathway promote the hepatocarcinogenesis.

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