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Regulation of telomerase by human papillomaviruses.

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Program in Cancer Biology, Divisions of Human Biology and Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109-1024, USA.


The E6 oncoprotein of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) induces telomerase activity in primary human epithelial cells. This activity is dependent on association of E6 with E6AP, a cellular ubiquitin ligase. E6 activates the transcription of hTERT, the catalytic subunit of telomerase. E boxes near the start of hTERT transcription are required for E6; however, acetylated histones are only present in the E6 cells. We identified two isoforms of NFX1, a new binding partner of E6/E6AP. The NFX1- 91 isoform binds to an X-box motif located adjacent to the proximal E box, binds Sin3A and HDACs, repressing hTERT transcription. It preferentially binds E6/E6AP and is targeted for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. The NFX1-123 isoform has the opposite activity, increasing hTERT transcription or translation. This is the first example of viral oncoproteins disrupting regulation of telomerase, a critical event in tumorigenesis.

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