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Oncogene. 1997 Jul 17;15(3):257-64.

Alternatively spliced HPV-18 E6* protein inhibits E6 mediated degradation of p53 and suppresses transformed cell growth.

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International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Trieste, Italy.


The E6 proteins originating from the tumour-associated Human Papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18 have been shown to bind to and target the tumour suppressor protein, p53, for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. However, in cell lines derived from cervical neoplasias, the predominant early region transcripts are spliced and encode truncated forms of E6, termed E6*. We report here that HPV-18 E6* protein will interact both with the full-length E6 proteins from HPV-16 and HPV-18 and also with E6-AP, and subsequently blocks the association of full length E6 protein with p53. We also show that, as a result of this block, E6* can inhibit E6-mediated degradation of p53 both in vitro and in vivo. The biological consequences of this are increased transcriptional activity on p53-responsive promoters and an inhibition of cell growth in cells transfected with E6*. This is the first report of a potential biological function for this polypeptide and may represent a means by which HPV is able to modulate the activity of the full-length E6 protein with respect to p53 during viral infection.

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