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J Virol. 2009 Jul;83(13):6446-56. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02556-08. Epub 2009 Apr 15.

NFX1-123 increases hTERT expression and telomerase activity posttranscriptionally in human papillomavirus type 16 E6 keratinocytes.

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Division of Human Biology, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109, USA.


High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 protein induces telomerase activity through transcriptional activation of hTERT, the catalytic subunit of telomerase. HPV type 16 (HPV16) E6 interacts with two splice variants of NFX1 to increase hTERT expression. NFX1-91 is a transcriptional repressor of hTERT that is polyubiquitinated and targeted for degradation by HPV16 E6 in concert with E6-associated protein. We previously showed that NFX1-123 augments hTERT expression through binding to cytoplasmic poly(A) binding proteins (PABPCs). In this study, we determined that unlike NFX1-91, NFX1-123 is a cytoplasmic protein that colocalized with PABPCs but does not shuttle with PABPCs between the nucleus and cytoplasm. NFX1-123 requires both its PAM2 motif, with which it binds PABPCs, and its R3H domain, which has putative nucleic acid binding capabilities, to increase hTERT mRNA levels and telomerase activity in keratinocytes expressing HPV16 E6. In keratinocytes expressing HPV16 E6 and overexpressing NFX1-123, there was increased protein expression from in vitro-transcribed RNA fused with the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) of hTERT. This posttranscriptional increase in expression required the PAM2 motif and R3H domain of NFX1-123 as well as the coexpression of HPV16 E6. NFX1-123 bound endogenous hTERT mRNA and increased its stability in HPV16 E6-expressing human foreskin keratinocytes, and NFX1-123 increased the stability of in vitro-transcribed RNA fused with the 5' UTR of hTERT. Together, these studies describe the first evidence of posttranscriptional regulation of hTERT, through the direct interaction of the cytoplasmic protein NFX1-123 with hTERT mRNA, in HPV16 E6-expressing keratinocytes.

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