Research Papers:

Hepatitis C virus Core overcomes all-trans retinoic acid-induced apoptosis in human hepatoma cells by inhibiting p14 expression via DNA methylation

Juri Kwak, Jung-Hye Choi and Kyung Lib Jang _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:85584-85598. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.20337

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Juri Kwak1, Jung-Hye Choi1 and Kyung Lib Jang1

1Department of Microbiology, College of Natural Sciences, Pusan National University, Busan 609-735, Republic of Korea

Correspondence to:

Kyung Lib Jang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: all-trans retinoic acid, apoptosis, hepatitis C virus Core, p53, p14

Received: December 19, 2016     Accepted: July 25, 2017     Published: August 18, 2017


All-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), the most biologically active metabolite of vitamin A, is known to induce p14 expression via promoter hypomethylation to activate the p14-MDM2-p53 pathway, which leads to activation of the p53-dependent apoptotic pathway and subsequent induction of apoptosis in human hepatoma cells. In the present study, we found that hepatitis C virus (HCV) Core derived from ectopic expression or HCV infection overcomes ATRA-induced apoptosis in p53-positive hepatoma cells. For this effect, HCV Core upregulated both protein levels and enzyme activities of DNA methyltransferase 1 (DNMT1), DNMT3a, and DNMT3b and thereby repressed p14 expression via promoter hypermethylation, resulting in inactivation of the pathway leading to p53 accumulation in the presence of ATRA. As a result, HCV Core prevented ATRA from activating several apoptosis-related molecules, including Bax, p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis, caspase-9, caspase-3, and poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. In addition, complementation of p14 in the Core-expressing cells by either ectopic expression or treatment with 5-Aza-2′dC almost completely abolished the potential of HCV Core to suppress ATRA-induced apoptosis. Based on these observations, we conclude that HCV Core executes its oncogenic potential by suppressing the p53-dependent apoptosis induced by ATRA in human hepatoma cells.

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