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Transforming Growth Factor-β1 Suppresses Hepatitis B Virus Replication by the Reduction of Hepatocyte Nuclear Factor-4α Expression

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030360
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immune System
  • Microbiology
  • Virology
  • Viral Transmission And Infection
  • Medicine
  • Gastroenterology And Hepatology
  • Liver Diseases
  • Infectious Hepatitis
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Several studies have demonstrated that cytokine-mediated noncytopathic suppression of hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication may provide an alternative therapeutic strategy for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B infection. In our previous study, we showed that transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-β1) could effectively suppress HBV replication at physiological concentrations. Here, we provide more evidence that TGF-β1 specifically diminishes HBV core promoter activity, which subsequently results in a reduction in the level of viral pregenomic RNA (pgRNA), core protein (HBc), nucleocapsid, and consequently suppresses HBV replication. The hepatocyte nuclear factor 4alpha (HNF-4α) binding element(s) within the HBV core promoter region was characterized to be responsive for the inhibitory effect of TGF-β1 on HBV regulation. Furthermore, we found that TGF-β1 treatment significantly repressed HNF-4α expression at both mRNA and protein levels. We demonstrated that RNAi-mediated depletion of HNF-4α was sufficient to reduce HBc synthesis as TGF-β1 did. Prevention of HNF-4α degradation by treating with proteasome inhibitor MG132 also prevented the inhibitory effect of TGF-β1. Finally, we confirmed that HBV replication could be rescued by ectopic expression of HNF-4α in TGF-β1-treated cells. Our data clarify the mechanism by which TGF-β1 suppresses HBV replication, primarily through modulating the expression of HNF-4α gene.

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