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J Virol. 1992 Apr;66(4):2125-34.

The E6 and E7 genes of human papillomavirus type 6 have weak immortalizing activity in human epithelial cells.

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  • 1Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98104-2092.


Previous studies have shown that the E7 gene of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 or 18 alone was sufficient for immortalization of human foreskin epithelial cells (HFE) and that the efficiency was increased in cooperation with the respective E6 gene, whereas the HPV6 E6 or E7 gene was not active in HFE. To detect weak immortalizing activities of the HPV6 genes, cells were infected with recombinant retroviruses containing HPV genes, alone and in homologous and heterologous combinations. The HPV6 genes, alone or together (HPV6 E6 plus HPV6 E7), were not able to immortalize cells. However the HPV6 E6 gene, in concert with HPV16 E7, increased the frequency of immortalization threefold over that obtained with HPV16 E7 alone. Interestingly, 6 of 20 clones containing the HPV16 E6 gene and the HPV6 E7 gene were immortalized, whereas neither gene alone was sufficient. Thus, the HPV6 E6 and E7 genes have weak immortalizing activities which can be detected in cooperation with the more active transforming genes of HPV16. Acute expression of the HPV6 and HPV16 E6 and E7 genes revealed that only HPV16 E7 was able to stimulate the proliferation of cells in organotypic culture, resulting in increased expression of the proliferative cell nuclear antigen and the formation of a disorganized epithelial layer. Additionally, combinations of genes that immortalized HFE cells (HPV16 E6 plus HPV16 E7, HPV16 E6 plus HPV6 E7, and HPV6 E6 plus HPV16 E7) also stimulated proliferation.

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