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Oncogene. 1999 Dec 16;18(54):7748-54.

Interaction between the HPV-16 E2 transcriptional activator and p53.

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International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Padriciano 99, I-34012 Trieste, Italy.


The HPV-16 E2 protein is a major regulator of viral DNA replication and gene expression. Through interactions with the viral origin binding protein, E1, it localizes E1 to the origin of replication and stimulates the initiation of viral DNA replication. However, several recent reports have described a number of diverse activities of E2 relating to the induction of apoptosis through both p53 dependent and independent mechanisms, and to induction of growth arrest in both the G1 and G2M phases of the cell cycle. Recent studies have also shown that p53 can specifically inhibit HPV DNA replication, albeit through an unknown mechanism. Since p53 has been described in the replication centres of Herpes Viruses, Adenovirus and SV40 we decided to investigate whether any of the above activities of E2 may be related to an association with p53. We show, in a series of in vitro assays, specific interaction between p53 and HPV-16 E2 via residues in the carboxy terminal half of the E2 protein. Mutational analysis of p53 indicates that sequences in both the DNA binding and oligomerization domains are essential for the interaction, and a mutant of p53 which is unable to bind E2 is also unable to inhibit HPV DNA replication. Finally, using an inducible system of p53 expression we also show that E2 will complex with p53 in vivo. These results raise the intriguing possibility that p53 may also be involved in HPV DNA replication centres, and also provides explanations for some of the diverse activities reported for the HPV E2 proteins.

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