Journal of viral hepatitis

Hepatitis B virus x protein induces autophagy via activating death-associated protein kinase.

PMID 24188325


Hepatitis B virus x protein (HBX), a product of hepatitis B virus (HBV), is a multifunctional protein that regulates viral replication and various cellular functions. Recently, HBX has been shown to induce autophagy; however, the responsible mechanism is not fully known. In this study, we established stable HBX-expressing epithelial Chang cells as the platform to study how HBX induced autophagy. The results showed that the overexpression of HBX resulted in starvation-induced autophagy. HBX-induced autophagy was related to its ability to dephosphorylate/activate death-associated protein kinase (DAPK). The block of DAPK by its siRNA significantly counteracted HBX-mediated autophagy, confirming the positive role of DAPK in this process. HBX also induced Beclin 1, which functions at the downstream of the DAPK-mediated autophagy pathway. Although HBX could activate JNK, a kinase known to participate in autophagy in certain conditions, the change in JNK failed to influence HBX-induced autophagy. In conclusion, HBX induces autophagy via activating DAPK in a pathway related to Beclin 1, but not JNK. This new finding should help us to understand the role of autophagy in HBX-mediated pathogenesis and thus may provide targets for intervening HBX-related disorders.