A direct role for hepatitis B virus X protein in inducing mitochondrial membrane permeabilization

H. R. Lee, Y. Y. Cho, G. Y. Lee, D. You, Y. D. Yoo, Y. J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Hepatitis B virus X protein (HBx) acts as a multifunctional protein that regulates intracellular signalling pathways during HBV infection. It has mainly been studied in terms of its interaction with cellular proteins. Here, we show that HBx induces membrane permeabilization independently of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore complex. We generated mitochondrial outer membrane-mimic liposomes to observe the direct effects of HBx on membranes. We found that HBx induced membrane permeabilization, and the region comprising the transmembrane domain and the mitochondrial-targeting sequence was sufficient for this process. Membrane permeabilization was inhibited by nonselective channel blockers or by N-(n-nonyl)deoxynojirimycin (NN-DNJ), a viroporin inhibitor. Moreover, NN-DNJ inhibited HBx-induced mitochondrial depolarization in Huh-7 cells. Based on the results of this study, we can postulate that the HBx protein itself is sufficient to induce mitochondrial membrane permeabilization. Our finding provides important information for a strategy of HBx targeting during HBV treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-420
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Viral Hepatitis
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr


  • hepatitis B virus X protein
  • membrane permeabilization
  • viroporin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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