Oncogenesis and Molecular Virology - INSERM U579  

  HEADDr BUENDIA Marie Annick / mbuendia@pasteur.fr
  MEMBERSDr ARMENGOL Carolina / BENHENDA Shirine / Dr CAIRO Stefano / COUGOT Delphine
NOUET Yann / Dr NEUVEUT Christine / Dr WEI Yu

  Annual Report

The team’s research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of liver cancer, with particular emphasis on the role of hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the oncogenic activation of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling.

Cellular partners of the viral protein HBx in viral replication and oncogenesis

The HBV-encoded HBx oncoprotein is a multi-functional regulator of transcription and signal transduction. HBx activity is mandatory for HBV replication. We have found a direct, functional interaction of HBx with the acetyltransferases CBP/p300, which have a critical role in CREB-dependent transcription of cellular growth-related genes. The impact of this interaction and the role of HDAC1 on viral replication and oncogenesis will be analyzed in vitro and in vivo. A new study has been launched to examine HBx interaction with the DDB1 subunit of the Cul4A ubiquitin E3 ligase complex. This complex might be subverted by HBx to benefit viral replication. Through crystal structure and proteomic analysis, we will search for cellular substrates selectively targeted by the HBx/DDB1 complex.

Wnt/ß-catenin signaling in liver cancer

The Wnt/ß-catenin pathway plays a crucial role in development and it is aberrantly reactivated in human liver cancer by somatic mutations of ß-catenin. Our major goal is to identify cellular partners and target genes of ß-catenin that operate in liver oncogenesis. We have recently found that the FHL2 co activator interacts with ß-catenin and is critically involved in the activation of Wnt-responsive genes such as cyclin D1. FHL2 interacts also with CBP/p300 and favors the acetylation of ß-catenin, which stabilizes the ß-catenin/Tcf complex on target promoters. Recent data in mouse embryo fibroblasts and in murine tumor models demonstrate that FHL2 deficiency impinges on cell cycle, cell immortalization and transformation, and strongly inhibits the onset of ß-catenin-related tumors.

Finally, using genome-wide approaches, we have identified a panel of Wnt target genes in human and murine liver tumors, notably Tbx3 that mediates the proliferative and anti-apoptotic effects of ß-catenin. In hepatoblastoma, the molecular signature of Wnt/ß-catenin signaling seems to be mainly imposed by liver environment but differs according to developmental stage and clinical subtype, providing new prognostic markers. Our main goal lies in basic research but our results have applications for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. To this aim, collaboration has been established with clinicians and pathologists involved in clinical trials.


Figure 1 : L’infection chronique par le virus de l’hépatite B représente un facteur de risque majeur pour le développement du cancer primitif du foie. Cette tumeur au pronostic sévère est l’un des cancers humains les plus fréquents dans le monde. Parmi les mécanismes impliqués dans le processus tumoral, les mutations somatiques de p53 et de la ß-caténine jouent un rôle prédominant dans une proportion significative de tumeurs.

Chronic HBV infection is a major risk factor for the development of liver cancer, one of the commonest killer tumors in humans. Our recent work aims at defining new virus-cell interactions involved in the viral life cycle and the pathogenesis of HBV.


Publications 2006 of the unit on Pasteur's references database

Activity Reports 2006 - Institut Pasteur
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