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Hepatitis B virus X protein modulates apoptosis in human renal proximal tubular epithelial cells by activating the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway

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Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) is a multifunctional protein, and it activates multiple signal transduction pathways in multiple types of cells and regulates the process of cell apoptosis. In the present study, we mainly investigated the correlation between HBx and renal tubular epithelial cell apoptosis in hepatitis B virus-associated glomerulonephritis (HBVGN) and the possible signaling mechanism. Cell apoptosis in nephridial tissues of patients with HBVGN were determined by the TUNEL method. HBx, p-STAT3 and STAT3 levels in nephridial tissues were determined by immunohistochemical assay, and a correlation analysis between HBx expression levels and apoptosis index in nephridial tissues was conducted. The activation of the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway in HK-2 cells and the expression of the apoptosis-related proteins Bax and Bcl-2 were determined by western blot analysis following transfection with the HBx eukaryotic expression vector. Cellular proliferation activity was determined by the CCK8 method, and cell apoptosis was determined with HO33342 staining using transmission electron microscopy and Annexin V/PI double staining flow cytometry. The results revealed that the apoptosis index in nephridial tissues of patients with HBVGN was significantly higher when compared to that of the control group, and p-STAT3 expression levels in HBVGN nephridial tissues were significantly increased. In the control group, no HBx expression was observed in the nephridial tissues, whereas HBx expression was found in the nephridial tissues of 86% of the patients with HBVGN. The HBx expression levels had a linear correlation with the apoptosis index in the nephridial tissues. After target gene HBx infection, expression levels of both p-JAK2 and p-STAT3 in human proximal HK-2 cells were significantly increased, and the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio was also significantly increased. At the same time, cellular proliferation of HK-2 cells was significantly inhibited, and the rate of apoptosis was increased. After incubation with AG490, the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway was partially blocked, which caused a decrease in the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio and reduced cell apoptosis caused by HBx. In conclusion, HBx upregulates the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio by activating the JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway to cause renal tubular epithelial cell apoptosis, and it is possibly involved in the pathogenic mechanism of nephridial tissue damage caused by HBV.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Nephrology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110004, P.R. China 2: Department of Infectious Diseases, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110004, P.R. China 3: Department of Cardiology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, Liaoning 110004, P.R. China

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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  • The International Journal of Molecular Medicine is a monthly, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the publication of high quality studies related to the molecular mechanisms of human disease. The journal welcomes research on all aspects of molecular and clinical research, ranging from biochemistry to immunology, pathology, genetics, human genomics, microbiology, molecular pathogenesis, molecular cardiology, molecular surgery and molecular psychology.

    The International Journal of Molecular Medicine aims to provide an insight for researchers within the community in regard to developing molecular tools and identifying molecular targets for the diagnosis and treatment of a diverse number of human diseases.
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