Hepatitis B virus suppresses the secretion of insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 to facilitate anti-apoptotic IGF-1 effects in HepG2 cells

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Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major global health burden as chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is associated with the development of liver diseases including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To gain insight into the mechanisms causing HBV-related HCC, we investigated the effects of HBV replication on global host cell gene expression using human HepG2 liver cells. By microarray analysis, we identified 54 differentially expressed genes in HBV-replicating HepG2 cells. One of the differentially-expressed genes was insulin-like growth factor binding protein 1 (IGFBP1) which was downregulated in HBV-replicating cells. Consistent with the gene expression data, IGFBP1 was suppressed at both the cellular and secreted protein levels in the presence of HBV replication. Transient transfection experiments with an inducible plasmid encoding the HBV X protein (HBx) revealed that HBx alone was sufficient to modulate IGFBP1 expression. Small interference RNA (siRNA)-mediated loss of function studies revealed that knockdown of IGFBP1 reduced apoptosis induced by either thapsigargin (TG) or staurosporine (STS). Treatment of cells with recombinant insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) decreased both TG- or STS-induced apoptosis. Interestingly, addition of recombinant IGFBP1 reversed the anti-apoptotic effect of IGF-1 on TG-induced, but not STS-induced, apoptosis. In conclusion, our results suggest an anti-apoptotic autocrine function of HBV-mediated downregulation of IGFBP1 in HepG2 cells. Such an effect may contribute to the development of HBV-mediated HCC by increasing pro-survival and anti-apoptotic IGF-1 effects.HighlightsHBV replication alters host cell gene expression in HepG2 cells.HBV replication downregulates IGFBP1 expression and secretion.HBx expression alone is sufficient to modulate IGFBP1 expression.Knockdown of IGFBP1 reduces thapsigargin- and staurosporine-induced apoptosis.IGFBP1 inhibits the anti-apoptotic effects of IGF-1.

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