HPV E6 protein interacts physically and functionally with the cellular telomerase complex.
ABSTRACT: Telomerase activation is critical for the immortalization of primary human keratinocytes by the high-risk HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins, and this activation is mediated in part by E6-induction of the hTERT promoter. E6 induces the hTERT promoter via interactions with the cellular ubiquitin ligase, E6AP, and with the c-Myc and NFX-1 proteins, which are resident on the promoter. In the current study we demonstrate that E6 protein interacts directly with the hTERT protein. Correlating with its ability to bind hTERT, E6 also associates with telomeric DNA and with endogenous active telomerase complexes. Most importantly, E6 increases the telomerase activity of human foreskin fibroblasts transduced with the hTERT gene, and this activity is independent of hTERT mRNA expression. Unlike its ability to degrade p53, E6 does not degrade hTERT protein in vitro or in vivo. Our studies of E6/hTERT interactions also reveal that the C-terminal tagged hTERT protein, although incapable of immortalizing fibroblasts, does immortalize keratinocytes in collaboration with the viral E7 protein. Thus, E6 protein mediates telomerase activation by a posttranscriptional mechanism and these findings provide a model for exploring the direct modulation of cell telomerase/telomere function by an oncogenic virus and suggest its potential role in both neoplasia and virus replication.
Project description:The critical immortalizing activity of the human papillomavirus (HPV) type-16 E6 oncoprotein is to induce expression of hTERT, the catalytic and rate-limiting subunit of telomerase. Additionally, E6 binds to a cellular protein called E6-associated protein (E6-AP) to form an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets p53 for proteasome-dependent degradation. Although telomerase induction and p53 degradation are separable and distinct functions of E6, binding of E6 to E6-AP strongly correlated with the induction of hTERT. Here, we demonstrate using shRNAs to reduce E6-AP expression that E6-AP is required for E6-mediated telomerase induction. A yeast two-hybrid screen to find new targets of the E6/E6-AP E3 ubiquitin ligase complex identified NFX1. Two isoforms of NFX1 were found: NFX1-123, which coactivated with c-Myc at the hTERT promoter, and NFX1-91, which repressed the hTERT promoter. NFX1-91 was highly ubiquitinated and destabilized in epithelial cells expressing E6. Furthermore, knockdown of NFX1-91 by shRNA resulted in derepression of the endogenous hTERT promoter and elevated levels of telomerase activity. We propose that the induction of telomerase by the HPV-16 E6/E6-AP complex involves targeting of NFX1-91, a newly identified repressor of telomerase, for ubiquitination and degradation.
Project description:Previous studies have shown that wild-type human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) protein can functionally replace the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) E6 protein, which cooperates with the viral E7 protein in the immortalization of primary keratinocytes. In the current study, we made the surprising finding that catalytically inactive hTERT (hTERT-D868A), elongation-defective hTERT (hTERT-HA), and telomere recruitment-defective hTERT (hTERT N+T) also cooperate with E7 in mediating bypass of the senescence blockade and effecting cell immortalization. This suggests that hTERT has activities independent of its telomere maintenance functions that mediate transit across this restriction point. Since hTERT has been shown to have a role in gene activation, we performed microarray studies and discovered that E6, hTERT and mutant hTERT proteins altered the expression of highly overlapping sets of cellular genes. Most important, the E6 and hTERT proteins induced mRNA and protein levels of Bmi1, the core subunit of the Polycomb Group (PcG) complex 1. We show further that Bmi1 substitutes for E6 or hTERT in cell immortalization. Finally, tissue array studies demonstrated that expression of Bmi1 increased with the severity of cervical dysplasia, suggesting a potential role in the progression of cervical cancer. Together, these data demonstrate that hTERT has extra-telomeric activities that facilitate cell immortalization and that its induction of Bmi1 is one potential mechanism for mediating this activity.
Project description:Overcoming senescence signals in somatic cells is critical to cellular immortalization and carcinogenesis. High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) can immortalize epithelial cells in culture through degradation of the retinoblastoma protein by HPV E7 and activation of hTERT transcription, the catalytic subunit of telomerase, by the heterodimer HPV E6/E6-associated protein (E6AP). Recent work in our laboratory identified a novel repressor of hTERT transcription, NFX1-91, which is targeted for ubiquitin-mediated degradation by HPV type 16 (HPV16) E6/E6AP. In contrast, NFX1-123, a splice variant NFX1, increased expression from an hTERT promoter that was activated by HPV16 E6/E6AP. Here, we show that HPV16 E6 bound both NFX1-91 and NFX1-123 through the common central domain of NFX1 in the absence of E6AP. NFX1-123 positively regulated hTERT expression, as its knockdown decreased hTERT mRNA levels and telomerase activity and its overexpression increased telomerase activity. We identified new protein partners of NFX1-123, including several cytoplasmic poly(A) binding proteins (PABPCs) that interacted with NFX1-123 through its N-terminal PAM2 motif, a protein domain characteristic of other PABPC protein partners. Furthermore, NFX1-123 and PABPCs together had a synergistic stimulatory effect on hTERT-regulated reporter assays. The data suggest that NFX1-123 is integral to hTERT regulation in HPV16 E6-expressing epithelial cells and that the interaction between NFX1-123 and PABPCs is critical to hTERT activity.
Project description:Activation of telomerase by human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) E6 is a critical step for cell immortalization and transformation in human foreskin keratinocytes (HFKs). Multiple transcription factors have been identified as being involved in E6-induced hTERT expression. Here, we adapted an unbiased in vivo screen using a LacO-LacI system in human cells to discover hTERT promoter-interacting regulators. This approach allowed us to identify a novel hTERT repressor, Maz, which bound the hTERT promoter. E6 expression reduced Maz binding and correspondingly increased Sp1 binding at the hTERT promoter. Knockdown of Maz further increased histone acetylation, as well as hTERT expression in the presence of E6. Overall, these data indicate the utility of a novel screen for promoter-interacting and transcription-regulating proteins. These data also highlight multiple factors that normally regulate hTERT repression in HFKs, and therefore are targeted by E6 for hTERT expression.
Project description:HPV-16 E6 and E7 genes are required to efficiently immortalize a broad spectrum of cell types including cervical keratinocytes. Therefore, the E6/E7 genes can be considered relevant targets for anti-cancer therapy. We produced several engineered hairpin (HP) ribozymes to specifically disrupt HPV-16 E6/E7 mRNA. After extensive biochemical characterization, one anti-E6 HP ribozyme (R434) was selected for in vivo testing because of its superior catalytic capabilities. When expressed in cis, R434 efficiently inhibited E6 in vitro translation. Cis-expression of the HP ribozyme with HPV-16 E6/E7 genes in normal human keratinocytes reduced the growth rate and prevented immortalization. RNA analysis by reverse transcription-PCR showed that E6/E7 transcripts were cleaved in post-transfected cells and virtually were eliminated after long term expression. Of interest, an inactive version of the HP also was able to significantly affect the immortalizing ability of E6/E7, probably through passive hybridization. The combination of passive and cleaving antisense RNA therefore is established as an effective inhibitor of HPV-16 E6/E7 immortalization.
Project description:Human Papillomavirus Viruses (HPVs) are associated with the majority of human cervical and anal cancers and 10-30% of head and neck squamous carcinomas. E6 oncoprotein from high risk HPVs interacts with the p53 tumor suppressor protein to facilitate its degradation and increases telomerase activity for extending the life span of host cells. We published previously that the Myc cellular transcription factor associates with the high-risk HPV E6 protein in vivo and participates in the transactivation of the hTERT promoter. In the present study, we further analyzed the role of E6 and the Myc-Max-Mad network in regulating the hTERT promoter. We confirmed that E6 and Myc interact independently and that Max can also form a complex with E6. However, the E6/Max complex is observed only in the presence of Myc, suggesting that E6 associates with Myc/Max dimers. Consistent with the hypothesis that Myc is required for E6 induction of the hTERT promoter, Myc antagonists (Mad or Mnt) significantly blocked E6-mediated transactivation of the hTERT promoter. Analysis of Myc mutants demonstrated that both the transactivation domain and HLH domain of Myc protein were required for binding E6 and for the consequent transactivation of the hTERT promoter, by either Myc or E6. We also showed that E6 increased phosphorylation of Pol II on the hTERT promoter and induced epigenetic histone modifications of the hTERT promoter. More important, knockdown of Myc expression dramatically decreased engagement of acetyl-histones and Pol II at the hTERT promoter in E6-expressing cells. Thus, E6/Myc interaction triggers the transactivation of the hTERT promoter by modulating both histone modifications, Pol II phosphorylation and promoter engagement, suggesting a novel mechanism for telomerase activation and a new target for HPV- associated human cancer.
Project description:Gene methylation profiling of immortalized human mesenchymal stem cells comparing HPV E6/E7-transfected MSCs cells with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)- and HPV E6/E7-transfected MSCs. hTERT may increase gene methylation in MSCs. Goal was to determine the effects of different transfected genes on global gene methylation in MSCs. Two-condition experiment, KP MSCs vs. 3A6 MSCs.
Project description:Gene methylation profiling of immortalized human mesenchymal stem cells comparing HPV E6/E7-transfected MSCs cells with human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)- and HPV E6/E7-transfected MSCs. hTERT may increase gene methylation in MSCs. Goal was to determine the effects of different transfected genes on global gene methylation in MSCs. Overall design: Two-condition experiment, KP MSCs vs. 3A6 MSCs.
Project description:The high-risk human papillomavirus (HR HPV) E6 oncoprotein binds host cell proteins to dysregulate multiple regulatory pathways, including apoptosis and senescence. HR HPV16 E6 (16E6) interacts with the cellular protein NFX1-123, and together they posttranscriptionally increase hTERT expression, the catalytic subunit of telomerase. NFX1-123 interacts with hTERT mRNA and stabilizes it, leading to greater telomerase activity and the avoidance of cellular senescence. Little is known regarding what other transcripts are dependent on or augmented by the association of NFX1-123 with 16E6. Microarray analysis revealed enhanced expression of Notch1 mRNA in 16E6-expressing keratinocytes when NFX1-123 was overexpressed. A moderate increase in Notch1 mRNA was seen with overexpression of NFX1-123 alone, but with 16E6 coexpression the increase in Notch1 was enhanced. The PAM2 motif and R3H protein domains in NFX1-123, which were important for increased hTERT expression, were also important in the augmentation of Notch1 expression by 16E6. These findings identify a second gene coregulated by 16E6 and NFX1-123 and the protein motifs in NFX1-123 that are important for this effect.
Project description:Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the causative factor for >90% of cervical cancers and 25% of head and neck cancers. The incidence of HPV positive (+) head and neck squamous cell carcinomas has greatly increased in the last 30 years. E6 and E7 are the two key viral oncoproteins that induce and propagate cellular transformation. An immune response generated during cisplatin/radiation therapy improves tumor clearance of HPV(+) cancers. Augmenting this induced response during therapy with an adenoviral HPV16 E6/E7 vaccine improves long-term survival in pre-clinical models. Here, we describe the generation of an HPV16 E6/E7 construct, which contains mutations that render E6/E7 non-oncogenic, while preserving antigenicity. These mutations do not allow E6/E7 to degrade p53, pRb, PTPN13, or activate telomerase. Non-oncogenic E6/E7 (E6(?)/E7(?)) expressed as a stable integrant, or in the [E1-, E2b-] adenovirus, lacks the ability to transform human cells while retaining the ability to induce an HPV-specific immune response. Moreover, E6(?)/E7(?) plus chemotherapy/radiation statistically enhances clearance of established HPV(+) cancer in vivo.