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Oncogene. 1995 Jun 15;10(12):2403-8.

Abrogation of p53 function by transfection of HPV16 E6 gene enhances the resistance of human diploid fibroblasts to ionizing radiation.

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Department of Cancer Biology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


In order to examine the role of p53 expression on the sensitivity of cells to radiation-induced reproductive failure, we examined the radiosensitivity of a human diploid fibroblast cell strain (AG1521) before and after transfection with the E6 or E6/E7 genes of human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16)3. HPV E6 binds to p53, promoting its degradation and abrogating wild-type p53 function. AG1521 cells transfected with either E6 or E6/E7 showed no radiation induction of either p53 or WAF1/Cip1. The radioresistance of these cells were significantly increased; the D0 of the survival curves rose from 130 +/- 4 cGy for wild type (neo-transfected) cells to 178-192 cGy for three subclones transfected with E6 alone, and 151-218 cGy for eight subclones transfected with E6/E7. The change in radiosensitivity took place before the process of cellular immortalization and transformation produced by transfection with these genes. Thus, the effect on radiosensitivity appears to be an early effect of the loss of p53 function in non-transformed cells, perhaps related to the loss of the G1 checkpoint and of the capacity for programmed death amongst radiation damaged cells.

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