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Cancer Biol Ther. 2006 Feb;5(2):210-7. Epub 2006 Feb 12.

Therapeutic potential of an adenovirus expressing p73 beta, a p53 homologue, against human papilloma virus positive cervical cancer in vitro and in vivo.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India.


Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer development. p53 based gene therapy is not suitable for cervical cancer because HPV oncoprotein E6 inactivates p53 protein by targeting it for ubiquitin mediated degradation. Here we evaluated the efficiency of Ad-p73, a replication deficient adenovirus expressing p73beta a p53 homologue, to inhibit the growth of HPV positive cervical cancer cells in vitro using tissue culture system and in vivo using human xenografts in nude mice. Ad-p73, but not Ad-p53 (p53 adenovirus), inhibited the growth in vitro of three different HPV positive cervical cancer cell lines, HeLa, ME180, and SiHa, efficiently, which correlated with stable expression of functional p73 protein. However, the growth of a HPV negative cervical cancer cell line, C33A, was inhibited equally by both Ad-p73 and Ad-p53. In addition, we show that Ad-p73 preinfected HeLa cells and HCT116 E6 cells, an E6 stable cell line, failed to form tumors in nude mice unlike Ad-p53 or Ad-LacZ preinfected cells. Moreover, Ad-p73, but not Ad-p53, inhibited completely the growth of already established tumors of HeLa or HCT116 E6 cells. Furthermore, the ability of p73 to inhibit the growth of these tumors correlated with the stable expression of p73 protein with the concomitant induction of its target gene p21(WAF1/CIP1) and induction of apoptosis in tumor cells. These results suggest that Ad-p73 inhibits efficiently the growth in vitro and tumorigenicity and tumor growth in vivo of HPV positive cervical cancer cells and that p73-based approach should be explored as a potential therapeutic model for the treatment of cervical cancer.

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