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Genes Dev. 2000 Dec 1;14(23):3065-73.

Role of Bak in UV-induced apoptosis in skin cancer and abrogation by HPV E6 proteins.

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Imperial Cancer Research Fund, Skin Tumour Laboratory, Centre for Cutaneous Research, London E1 2AT, UK.


Ultraviolet B (UVB) damage is recognized as the most important etiological factor in the development of skin cancer. Human papillomaviruses (HPV) have also been implicated in the disease, although the mechanism of action of these viruses remains unknown. We present evidence here that Bak protein is involved in signaling apoptosis in the skin in response to UVB damage, and that cutaneous HPV E6 proteins target and abrogate Bak function by promoting its proteolytic degradation both in vitro and in regenerated epithelium. Additionally, HPV positive skin cancers had undetectable levels of Bak in contrast to HPV negative cancers, which expressed Bak. This study supports a link between the virus and UVB in the induction of HPV-associated skin cancer and reveals a survival mechanism of virally infected cells.

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