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Hum Mutat. 2003 Mar;21(3):307-12.

The role of TP53 in Cervical carcinogenesis.

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Angewandte Tumorvirologie, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, INF 242, Heidelberg, Germany.


Functional loss of the tumor suppressor p53 by alterations in its TP53 gene is a frequent event in cancers of different anatomical regions. Cervical cancer is strongly linked to infection by high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) types. The viral oncoprotein E6 has the ability to associate with and neutralize the function of p53. E6 interacts with a 100-kDa cellular protein, termed E6 associated protein (E6AP; also called ubiquitin-protein ligase E3A or UBE3A), which functions as an ubiquitin protein ligase. The dimeric complex then binds p53 and E6AP catalyzes multi-ubiquitination and degradation of p53. The ability to promote p53 degradation is an exclusive property of E6 from the high-risk HPV types. Indeed, the low-risk E6 proteins lack this activity, although they can bind p53. Consistent with the E6 function of the high-risk HPV types, the majority of cervical cancer cells have a wild-type p53 gene, but the protein levels are strongly decreased. Several independent studies have shown that in a small percentage of cervical tumors the p53 gene is mutated. However, this event appears to be unrelated to the presence or absence of HPV infection and the nature of the tumor.

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