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Genes 2018, 9(3), 137; https://doi.org/10.3390/genes9030137

Hepatitis B Virus-Associated Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Hepatic Cancer Stem Cells

Department of Basic Medical Sciences and Purdue Center for Cancer Research, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA
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Received: 30 January 2018 / Revised: 23 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 2 March 2018
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Abstract

Chronic Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) infection is linked to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) pathogenesis. Despite the availability of a HBV vaccine, current treatments for HCC are inadequate. Globally, 257 million people are chronic HBV carriers, and children born from HBV-infected mothers become chronic carriers, destined to develop liver cancer. Thus, new therapeutic approaches are needed to target essential pathways involved in HCC pathogenesis. Accumulating evidence supports existence of hepatic cancer stem cells (hCSCs), which contribute to chemotherapy resistance and cancer recurrence after treatment or surgery. Understanding how hCSCs form will enable development of therapeutic strategies to prevent their formation. Recent studies have identified an epigenetic mechanism involving the downregulation of the chromatin modifying Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2) during HBV infection, which results in re-expression of hCSC marker genes in infected hepatocytes and HBV-associated liver tumors. However, the genesis of hCSCs requires, in addition to the expression of hCSC markers cellular changes, rewiring of metabolism, cell survival, escape from programmed cell death, and immune evasion. How these changes occur in chronically HBV-infected hepatocytes is not yet understood. In this review, we will present the basics about HBV infection and hepatocarcinogenesis. Next, we will discuss studies describing the mutational landscape of liver cancers and how epigenetic mechanisms likely orchestrate cellular reprograming of hepatocytes to enable formation of hCSCs. View Full-Text
Keywords: Hepatitis B Virus (HBV); Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC); hepatic Cancer Stem Cells (hCSCs); Epigenetics; Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2); Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM); pluripotency genes; p68/DDX5 RNA helicase; Hox transcript antisense RNA (HOTAIR) Hepatitis B Virus (HBV); Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC); hepatic Cancer Stem Cells (hCSCs); Epigenetics; Polycomb Repressive Complex 2 (PRC2); Epithelial Cell Adhesion Molecule (EpCAM); pluripotency genes; p68/DDX5 RNA helicase; Hox transcript antisense RNA (HOTAIR)
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Mani, S.K.K.; Andrisani, O. Hepatitis B Virus-Associated Hepatocellular Carcinoma and Hepatic Cancer Stem Cells. Genes 2018, 9, 137.

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