Washington, February 24 : Scientists at France's National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM) say that they have uncovered a novel molecular mechanism by which the Hepatitis B virus (HBV) causes liver diseases.
Dr. Dina Kremsdorf, lead researchers behind this discovery, says that their finding is basically based on the impacts of a core protein in the virus' genome, called X protein, in liver pathogenesis during HBV infection.
Writing about their study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, the researchers revealed that they first established a system in which the gene for X protein is permanently incorporated into mouse genome.
With transgenic mice expressing X protein, they could research many different impacts of the protein on the host. Their first exciting discovery was the inhibition of liver cell proliferation by X protein, which raised a novel mechanism on how HBV causes liver diseases.
In another groundbreaking study, the team further investigated how X protein inhibited the liver cell proliferation. They looked at the expression level of 5376 genes in the transgenic mice, using the DNA microarray technique in the study.
The researchers said their findings indicated that a decreased activity of those genes required for gene transcription and cholesterol metabolic pathway.
This not only confirmed the previous observation, but showed how the molecular mechanism of how Hepatitis B virus X protein inhibits the liver regeneration, they added.
The research team is of the opinion that its discoveries may help improve the knowledge of the implication of the viral proteins in the pathogenesis of HBV infection, and allow participation in the design of new and more effective treatments for HBV patients.