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Genes Dev. 1997 Aug 15;11(16):2090-100.

Inhibition of CDK activity and PCNA-dependent DNA replication by p21 is blocked by interaction with the HPV-16 E7 oncoprotein.

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  • 1Program in Cancer Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.


p21 inhibits cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity and proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA)-dependent DNA replication by binding to CDK/cyclin complexes and to PCNA through distinct domains. The human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 E7 oncoprotein (16E7) abrogated a DNA damage-induced cell cycle arrest in vivo, despite high levels of p21. Using cell lysates and purified proteins we show that 16E7 prevented p21 both from inhibiting CDK2/cyclin E activity and PCNA-dependent DNA replication, whereas the nononcogenic HPV-6 E7 had reduced effects. Inactivation of both inhibitory functions of p21 was attained through binding between 16E7 and sequences in the carboxy-terminal end of p21 that overlap with the PCNA-binding site and the second p21 cyclin-binding motif. These data imply that the carboxyl terminus of p21 simultaneously modulates both CDK activity and PCNA-dependent DNA replication and that a single protein, 16E7, can override this modulation to disrupt normal cell cycle control.

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