Liver-specific deletion of prohibitin 1 results in spontaneous liver injury, fibrosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma in mice

Kwang Suk Ko, Maria Lauda Tomasi, Ainhoa Iglesias-Ara, Barbara A. French, Samuel W. French, Komal Ramani, Juan José Lozano, Pilsoo Oh, Lina He, Bangyan L. Stiles, Tony W.H. Li, Heping Yang, M. Luz Martínez-Chantar, José M. Mato, Shelly C. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Prohibitin 1 (PHB1) is a highly conserved, ubiquitously expressed protein that participates in diverse processes including mitochondrial chaperone, growth and apoptosis. The role of PHB1 in vivo is unclear and whether it is a tumor suppressor is controversial. Mice lacking methionine adenosyltransferase 1A (MAT1A) have reduced PHB1 expression, impaired mitochondrial function, and spontaneously develop hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To see if reduced PHB1 expression contributes to the Mat1a knockout (KO) phenotype, we generated liver-specific Phb1 KO mice. Expression was determined at the messenger RNA and protein levels. PHB1 expression in cells was varied by small interfering RNA or overexpression. At 3 weeks, KO mice exhibit biochemical and histologic liver injury. Immunohistochemistry revealed apoptosis, proliferation, oxidative stress, fibrosis, bile duct epithelial metaplasia, hepatocyte dysplasia, and increased staining for stem cell and preneoplastic markers. Mitochondria are swollen and many have no discernible cristae. Differential gene expression revealed that genes associated with proliferation, malignant transformation, and liver fibrosis are highly up-regulated. From 20 weeks on, KO mice have multiple liver nodules and from 35 to 46 weeks, 38% have multifocal HCC. PHB1 protein levels were higher in normal human hepatocytes compared to human HCC cell lines Huh-7 and HepG2. Knockdown of PHB1 in murine nontransformed AML12 cells (normal mouse hepatocyte cell line) raised cyclin D1 expression, increased E2F transcription factor binding to cyclin D1 promoter, and proliferation. The opposite occurred with PHB1 overexpression. Knockdown or overexpression of PHB1 in Huh-7 cells did not affect proliferation significantly or sensitize cells to sorafenib-induced apoptosis. Conclusion: Hepatocyte-specific PHB1 deficiency results in marked liver injury, oxidative stress, and fibrosis with development of HCC by 8 months. These results support PHB1 as a tumor suppressor in hepatocytes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2096-2108
Number of pages13
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2010


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