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Disease Markers
Volume 17 (2001), Issue 3, Pages 153-157

Stimulation of Cellular Proliferation by Hepatitis B Virus X Protein

Charles R. Madden and Betty L. Slagle

Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Received 31 October 2001; Accepted 31 October 2001

Copyright © 2001 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. 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.


Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a known risk factor in the development of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The HBV-encoded X protein, HBx, has been investigated for properties that may explain its cancer cofactor role in transgenic mouse lines. We discuss here recent data showing that HBx is able to induce hepatocellular proliferation in vitro and in vivo. This property of HBx is predicted to sensitize hepatocytes to other HCC cofactors, including exposure to carcinogens and to other hepatitis viruses. Cellular proliferation is intimately linked to the mechanism(s) by which most tumor-associated viruses transform virus-infected cells. The HBx alteration of the cell cycle provides an additional mechanism by which chronic HBV infection may contribute to HCC.