Hepatitis B virus pX activates NF-κB-dependent transcription through a raf-independent pathway

Paolo Chirillo, Mirella Falco, Pier Lorenzo Puri, Marco Artini, Clara Balsano, Massimo Levrero, Gioacchino Natoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we characterized the molecular events involved in the activation of the ubiquitous transcription factor NF-κB by the viral transactivator pX. pX expression in HeLa cells determines a manyfold increase in NF-κB-dependent transcription, which is associated with an increase in p50/p65 heterodimer DNA-binding activity. Since the IκB-α inhibitory subunit proteolytic degradation, which follows its phosphorylation/modification, is a key event in NF-κB activation by different stimuli (such as growth factors, phorbol esters, tumor necrosis factor, UV irradiation, and oxygen radicals), we investigated pX effects on IκB-α, as well as the possible involvement of known signalling pathways in pX-induced NF-κB-dependent transcription. We observed that although pX had no direct effect on p50 or p65, it was able to restore the IκB-α-suppressed p50/p65 activity. More directly, the stable expression of pX in HeLa cells resulted in reduced levels of IκB-α in the cytoplasm. Pretreatment of the cells with H7, calphostin C, tyrphostin 25, or N-acetylcysteine did not impair the effects of pX on NF-κB, thus ruling out the involvement of protein kinase C, tyrosine kinases, and oxygen radicals. Finally, while most of the known NF-κB-activating agents converge on Raf-1 protein kinase, when Raf-1 activity is blocked by overexpression of a dominant negative mutant, the effects of pX on NF-κB are not impaired. Thus, we suggest that although pX is able to activate the Ras/Raf-1-signalling pathway, it triggers NF-κB activation by an as yet unidentified Raf-1-independent pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-646
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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