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Mol Cell Biol. 1999 Apr;19(4):2635-43.

Synergism with germ line transcription factor Oct-4: viral oncoproteins share the ability to mimic a stem cell-specific activity.

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  • 1Gene Expression Programme, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, 69117 Heidelberg, Federal Republic of Germany.


Activation of transcription by Oct-4 from remote binding sites requires a cofactor that is restricted to embryonal stem cells. The adenovirus E1A protein can mimic the activity of this stem cell-specific factor and stimulates Oct-4 activity in differentiated cells. Here we characterize the Oct-4-E1A interaction and show that the E1A 289R protein harbors two independent Oct-4 binding sites, both of which specifically interact with the POU domain of Oct-4. Furthermore, we demonstrate that, like E1A, the human papillomavirus E7 oncoprotein also specifically binds to the Oct-4 POU domain. E7 and Oct-4 can form a complex both in vitro and in vivo. Expression of E7 in differentiated cells stimulates Oct-4-mediated transactivation from distal binding sites. Moreover, Oct-4, but not other Oct factors, is active when expressed in cells transformed by human papillomavirus. Our results suggest that different viruses have evolved oncoproteins that share the ability to target Oct-4 and to mimic a stem cell-specific activity.

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