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Oncogene. 1999 Jan 7;18(1):9-17.

The adenovirus E4orf6 protein contributes to malignant transformation by antagonizing E1A-induced accumulation of the tumor suppressor protein p53.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Universität Regensburg, Germany.


The adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) E4orf6 protein promotes focus formation of primary baby rat kidney (BRK) cells in cooperation with Ad5 E1 proteins. This activity is most likely related to the ability of the E4orf6 protein to bind to p53 and modulate its tumor suppressor functions. In this study we report that transformed BRK cells that stably express E4orf6 in addition to E1A and E1B (ABS cells) displayed multiple additional properties commonly associated with a high grade of oncogenic transformation compared to cells expressing only E1A and E1B (AB cells). These properties included morphological alterations, markedly enhanced growth rates and growth to much higher saturation densities. Following injection into nude mice ABS-derived tumors exhibited accelerated growth and, based on histopathological criteria, proofed to be much more malignant compared to tumors generated by AB cells. Interestingly, these highly transformed properties of ABS cells correlated with a dramatic reduction of p53 steady-state levels which inversely correlated with E4orf6 expression. From these results we conclude that expression of the Ad5 E4orf6 protein (i) confers additional transformed in vitro properties to primary rat cells expressing the Ad5 E1 proteins, and (ii) increases the tumorigenic and malignant potential of these cells in vivo. Our data suggest that the Ad5 E4orf6 protein enhances the intrinsic ability of E1-transformed rat cells to grow in a neoplastic state by completely inactivating p53 tumor suppressor function in combination with the E1A and E1B proteins.

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