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Virology. 1997 Oct 27;237(2):296-306.

Inhibition of serum- and calcium-induced differentiation of human keratinocytes by HPV16 E6 oncoprotein: role of p53 inactivation.

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Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv, 69978, Israel.


We have recently shown that human papillomavirus (HPV16) E6 oncoprotein exhibits two separate biological activities in genital keratinocytes (PHKs). E6 protein by itself is capable of inducing colonies of proliferating cells resistant to serum and calcium-induced differentiation, whereas both E6 and E7 are required for immortalization of PHK. Using epitope-tagged E6 carboxy-terminal truncation mutants, we mapped the domain between amino acid residues 132 and 141 as being essential for the induction of differentiation resistance (L. Sherman and R. Schlegel, J. Virol. 70, 3269-3279, 1996). To determine whether E6 protein's ability to alter PHK response to serum and calcium was associated with its ability to inactivate p53, we evaluated each of the above E6 mutants and three E6 natural variants in these respective assays. Our results demonstrate that the E6 region spanning residues 132-141 is required for p53 degradation and for abrogation of p53 transactivation, suggesting a possible correlation between E6 biological activity in altering differentiation and loss of p53 function. To evaluate whether selective inactivation of p53 is sufficient for altering the response of PHK to serum and calcium we investigated the capacity of plasmids encoding a dominant mutant human p53 and human MDM-2 to functionally substitute for E6 in colony formation in PHK. Plasmids were verified for their ability to inactivate wild-type p53 by testing their capacity to abrogate the p53 transactivation function. The results obtained showed that vectors encoding human MDM-2 and mutant p53, while active in inhibition of p53-dependent transactivation and capable of expressing stable proteins in PHK, failed to induce colonies of proliferating cells resistant to serum and calcium differentiation. These data argue that p53 inactivation may not be the sole E6 function required for altering the response of PHK to serum- and calcium-triggered differentiation.

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