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Mol Cancer. 2011 Jun 24;10:77. doi: 10.1186/1476-4598-10-77.

Rare human papillomavirus 16 E6 variants reveal significant oncogenic potential.

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Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute, Probe Development & Biomarker Exploration, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.


The aim of this study was to determine whether low prevalence human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E6 variants differ from high prevalence types in their functional abilities. We evaluated functions relevant to carcinogenesis for the rarely-detected European variants R8Q, R10G and R48W as compared to the commonly detected L83V. Human immortalized keratinocytes (NIKS) stably transduced with the E6 variants were used in most functional assays. Low and high prevalence E6 variants displayed similar abilities in abrogation of growth arrest and inhibition of p53 elevation induced by actinomycin D. Differences were detected in the abilities to dysregulate stratification and differentiation of NIKS in organotypic raft cultures, modulate detachment induced apoptosis (anoikis) and hyperactivate Wnt signaling. No distinctive phenotype could be assigned to include all rare variants. Like L83V, raft cultures derived from variants R10G and R48W similarly induced hyperplasia and aberrantly expressed keratin 5 in the suprabasal compartment with significantly lower expression of keratin 10. Unlike L83V, both variants, and particularly R48W, induced increased levels of anoikis upon suspension in semisolid medium. R8Q induced a unique phenotype characterized by thin organotypic raft cultures, low expression of keratin 10, and high expression of keratins 5 and 14 throughout all raft layers. Interestingly, in a reporter based assay R8Q exhibited a higher ability to augment TCF/β-catenin transcription. The data suggests that differences in E6 variant prevalence in cervical carcinoma may not be related to the carcinogenic potential of the E6 protein.

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