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Mol Cancer Res. 2012 Feb;10(2):250-8. doi: 10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-11-0287. Epub 2011 Dec 7.

The E6 oncoprotein from HPV16 enhances the canonical Wnt/β-catenin pathway in skin epidermis in vivo.

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Deptamento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados (Cinvestav), México, México.


The contribution of the Wnt signaling pathway to human papilloma virus (HPV)-induced carcinogenesis is poorly understood. In high-grade dysplastic lesions that are caused by high-risk HPVs (HR-HPV), β-catenin is often located in the cell nucleus, which suggests that Wnt pathway may be involved in the development of HPV-related carcinomas. Most of the oncogenic potential of HR-HPVs resides on the PDZ-binding domain of E6 protein. We hypothesized that the PDZ-binding domain of the HPV16-E6 oncoprotein induces the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin due to its capacity to degrade PDZ-containing cellular targets. To test this hypothesis, we evaluated the staining pattern of β-catenin in the skin epidermis of transgenic mice expressing the full-length E6 oncoprotein (K14E6 mice) and measured LacZ gene expression in K14E6 mice that were crossed with a strain expressing LacZ that was knocked into the Axin2 locus (Axin2(+/LacZ) mice). Here, we show that the E6 oncoprotein enhances the nuclear accumulation of β-catenin, the accumulation of cellular β-catenin-responsive genes, and the expression of LacZ. None of these effects were observed when a truncated E6 oncoprotein that lacks the PDZ-binding domain was expressed alone (K14E6ΔPDZ mice) or in combination with Axin2(+/LacZ). Conversely, cotransfection with either E6 or E6ΔPDZ similarly enhanced canonical Wnt signaling in short-term in vitro assays that used a luciferase Wnt/β-catenin/TCF-dependent promoter. We propose that the activation of canonical Wnt signaling could be induced by the HPV16-E6 oncoprotein; however, the participation of the E6 PDZ-binding domain seems to be important in in vivo models only.

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