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Trichostatin A sensitizes HBx-expressing liver cancer cells to etoposide treatment

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Abstract

Agents commonly used in cancer chemotherapy rely on the induction of cell death via apoptosis, mitotic catastrophe, premature senescence and autophagy. Chemoresistance is the major factor limiting long-term treatment success in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recent studies have revealed that the hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) exerts anti-apoptotic effects, resulting in an increased drug resistance in HCC cells. In this study, we showed that etoposide treatment activated caspase-8 and caspase-3, leading to cleavages of p53, Bid and PARP, which subsequently induced apoptosis. Furthermore, p53 and Bid were accumulated in cytoplasm following etoposide treatment. However, HBx significantly attenuated etoposide-induced cell death. In HBx-expressing cells, despite the translocation of p53 and Bid to cytoplasm, the activation of caspases was inhibited. Furthermore, the phosphorylation of extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK) was markedly increased in HBx-expressing cells. Moreover, the pretreatment with trichostatin A (TSA, a histone deacetylase inhibitor) or TSA in combination with etoposide significantly sensitized HCC cells to apoptosis by inhibiting ERK phosphorylation, reactivating caspases and PARP, and inducing translocation of p53 and Bid to cytoplasm. Collectively, HBx reduces the sensitivity of HCC cells to chemotherapy. TSA in combination with etoposide can significantly overcome the increased resistance of HBx-expressing HCC cells to chemotherapy.

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Correspondence to George G. Chen.

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Zhang, C.Z.Y., Zhang, H.T., Chen, G.G. et al. Trichostatin A sensitizes HBx-expressing liver cancer cells to etoposide treatment. Apoptosis 16, 683–695 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10495-011-0597-x

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