Can tobacco use promote HCV-induced miR-122 hijacking and hepatocarcinogenesis?

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ethan W Taylor, Senior Research Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a well-recognized risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As a co-risk factor, the role of tobacco use in HCV-driven carcinogenesis and relevant underlying mechanisms remain largely unclear. The latest discoveries about HCV replication have shown that HCV RNA hijacks cellular miRNA-122 by forming an Ago2-HCV-miR-122 complex that stabilizes the HCV genome and enhances HCV replication. Our previous work has demonstrated that aqueous tobacco smoke extract (TSE) is a potent activator of HIV replication via TSE-mediated viral protection from oxidative stress and activation of a set of genes that can promote viral replication. Since HCV is, like HIV, an enveloped virus that should be equally susceptible to lipid peroxidation, and since one of the TSE-upregulated genes, the DDX3 helicase, is known to facilitate HCV replication, we hypothesize that (1) tobacco use can similarly enhance HCV viability and replication, and promote HCC progression by up-regulation of DDX3, and (2) by competing for binding with miR-122 as a competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA), HCV replication can liberate miR-122’s direct target, oncogenic gene cyclin G1 (CCNG1); furthermore, simultaneous tobacco use can synergistically enhance this competing effect via HCV upregulation. Our hypotheses may lay a foundation for better understanding of carcinogenesis in HCV-driven HCC and the potential role of tobacco as a cofactor. Disrupting the HCV ceRNA effect may provide a new strategy for designing anti HCV/HCC drugs.

Additional Information

Medical Hypotheses. Volume 80, Issue 2, February 2013, Pages 131-133.
Language: English
Date: 2013
hepatitis C virus, HCV, hepatocarcinogenesis, tobacco use

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