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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 6;287(15):12559-77. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.317040. Epub 2012 Feb 17.

Influence of physiologic folate deficiency on human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16)-harboring human keratinocytes in vitro and in vivo.

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Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202-5254, USA.


Although HPV16 transforms infected epithelial tissues to cancer in the presence of several co-factors, there is insufficient molecular evidence that poor nutrition has any such role. Because physiological folate deficiency led to the intracellular homocysteinylation of heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein E1 (hnRNP-E1) and activated a nutrition-sensitive (homocysteine-responsive) posttranscriptional RNA operon that included interaction with HPV16 L2 mRNA, we investigated the functional consequences of folate deficiency on HPV16 in immortalized HPV16-harboring human (BC-1-Ep/SL) keratinocytes and HPV16-organotypic rafts. Although homocysteinylated hnRNP-E1 interacted with HPV16 L2 mRNA cis-element, it also specifically bound another HPV16 57-nucleotide poly(U)-rich cis-element in the early polyadenylation element (upstream of L2L1 genes) with greater affinity. Together, these interactions led to a profound reduction of both L1 and L2 mRNA and proteins without effects on HPV16 E6 and E7 in vitro, and in cultured keratinocyte monolayers and HPV16-low folate-organotypic rafts developed in physiological low folate medium. In addition, HPV16-low folate-organotypic rafts contained fewer HPV16 viral particles, a similar HPV16 DNA viral load, and a much greater extent of integration of HPV16 DNA into genomic DNA when compared with HPV16-high folate-organotypic rafts. Subcutaneous implantation of 18-day old HPV16-low folate-organotypic rafts into folate-replete immunodeficient mice transformed this benign keratinocyte-derived raft tissue into an aggressive HPV16-induced cancer within 12 weeks. Collectively, these studies establish a likely molecular linkage between poor folate nutrition and HPV16 and predict that nutritional folate and/or vitamin-B(12) deficiency, which are both common worldwide, will alter the natural history of HPV16 infections and also warrant serious consideration as reversible co-factors in oncogenic transformation of HPV16-infected tissues to cancer.

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