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Crit Rev Oncog. 1993;4(4):337-60.

Cellular and molecular alterations in human epithelial cells transformed by recombinant human papillomavirus DNA.

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Laboratory of Biology, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892.


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) contribute to the development of benign and malignant cervical cancer; however, the exact role of papillomaviruses in the multistage carcinogenesis process is unclear. The development of HPV-immortalized cervical and foreskin cell lines represents a useful model for studying the role of HPVs in cervical cancer. Studies with these cells show that HPV genes regulate epithelial cell growth and differentiation. Transfection of HPV types associated with invasive cervical cancer results in immortalization of human epithelial cells, whereas HPVs not associated with cancer are ineffective. The combination of E6 and E7 genes, which are normally retained and expressed in cervical carcinomas, is sufficient for immortalization; however, the E7 gene alone induces immortality less efficiently. Although the immortalized cells actively express HPV oncoproteins observed in cervical cancer, after injection of immortal cells into nude mice, tumors are rare, having been reported only for HPV-18. Immortalized cells are resistant to terminal differentiation; in fact, HPVs may contribute to the carcinogenic process by uncoupling the processes of cell growth and differentiation. Host regulation of viral genes also is important in the malignant process. Endogenous cytokines modify HPV gene expression and influence the pathogenesis of HPV infection in the cervix. HPV gene expression is regulated by cellular transcriptional activators and repressors. This normal regulation is altered by viral integration. HPVs become integrated preferentially at chromosomal regions near fragile sites and protooncogenes. In fact, immortality is associated with induction of structural rearrangements frequently affecting HPV integration sites. Structural and numerical alterations nonrandomly involve chromosomes 1, 11, 19, and 20, with chromosome 1 alteration being the most predominant. Wild-type functions of Rb and p53 are necessary to control normal cell growth, and mutation or loss of these suppressor genes often contributes to cancer development. In HPV-containing carcinomas, pRb and p53 were wild type. However, in carcinomas lacking HPV, both suppressor genes were mutated. Functional inactivation of these tumor suppressor genes by HPV oncoproteins E6 and E7 may explain this difference. Treatment of HPV-immortalized cells with ras or a subfragment of herpes simplex virus (HSV) of HPV-immortalized cells resulted in locally invasive carcinomas when the cells were implanted subcutaneously in nude mice. These experiments indicate that HPV integration and expression are insufficient for malignancy but that HPVs do participate in the multistep development of cancer.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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