MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to be dysregulated in virus-related cancers; however, miRNA regulation of virus-related cancer development and progression remains poorly understood. Here, we report that miR-148a is repressed by hepatitis B virus (HBV) X protein (HBx) to promote cancer growth and metastasis in a mouse model of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hematopoietic pre–B cell leukemia transcription factor–interacting protein (HPIP) is an important regulator of cancer cell growth. We used miRNA target prediction programs to identify miR-148a as a regulator of HPIP. Expression of miR-148a in hepatoma cells reduced HPIP expression, leading to repression of AKT and ERK and subsequent inhibition of mTOR through the AKT/ERK/FOXO4/ATF5 pathway. HBx has been shown to play a critical role in the molecular pathogenesis of HBV-related HCC. We found that HBx suppressed p53-mediated activation of miR-148a. Moreover, expression of miR-148a was downregulated in patients with HBV-related liver cancer and negatively correlated with HPIP, which was upregulated in patients with liver cancer. In cultured cells and a mouse xenograft model, miR-148a reduced the growth, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, invasion, and metastasis of HBx-expressing hepatocarcinoma cells through inhibition of HPIP-mediated mTOR signaling. Thus, miR-148a activation or HPIP inhibition may be a useful strategy for cancer treatment.
Xiaojie Xu, Zhongyi Fan, Lei Kang, Juqiang Han, Chengying Jiang, Xiaofei Zheng, Ziman Zhu, Huabo Jiao, Jing Lin, Kai Jiang, Lihua Ding, Hao Zhang, Long Cheng, Hanjiang Fu, Yi Song, Ying Jiang, Jiahong Liu, Rongfu Wang, Nan Du, Qinong Ye