HPV16 E7 protein and hTERT proteins defective for telomere maintenance cooperate to immortalize human keratinocytes.
ABSTRACT: 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: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:Epidemiological studies identified 12 high-risk HPV (hrHPV) types and 8 probable/possible hrHPV types that display different cancer risks. Functional studies on transforming properties of hrHPV are mainly limited to HPV16 and -18, which induce immortalization of human foreskin keratinocytes (HFKs) by successive bypass of two proliferative life span barriers, senescence and crisis. Here, we systematically compared the in vitro immortalization capacities, as well as influences on p53, pRb, hTERT, growth behavior, and differentiation capacity, of nine hrHPV types (HPV16, -18, -31, -33, -35, -45, -51, -52, and -59), and two probable hrHPV types (HPV66 and -70). By retroviral transduction, the respective E6/E7 coding sequences were expressed in HFKs from two or three independent donors. Reduced p53 levels and low-level hTERT expression in early-passage cells, as seen in HPV16-, -31-, -33-, and -35-, and to a lesser extent HPV18-transduced HFKs, was associated with continuous growth and an increased immortalization capacity. Less frequent immortalization by HPV45 and -51 and immortalization by HPV66 and -70 was preceded by an intervening period of strongly reduced growth (crisis) without prior increase in hTERT expression. Immortalization by HPV59 was also preceded by a period crisis, despite the onset of low hTERT expression at early passage. HPV52 triggered an extended life span but failed to induce immortality. Variations in p53 and pRb levels were not correlated with differences in alternative E6/E7 mRNA splicing in all hrHPV-transduced HFKs. On collagen rafts, transductants showed disturbed differentiation reminiscent of precancerous lesions. In conclusion, in vitro oncogenic capacities differ between the established hrHPV types, and both some established and probable hrHPV types display weak or moderate immortalization potential.
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:Many human primary somatic cells can be immortalized by inducing telomerase activity through the exogenous expression of the human telomerase catalytic subunit (hTERT). This approach has been extended to the immortalization of cell lines from several mammals. Here, we show that hTERT expression is not sufficient to immortalize primary fibroblasts from three equid species, namely donkey, Burchelli's zebra and Grevy's zebra. In vitro analysis of a reconstituted telomerase composed by hTERT and an equid RNA component of telomerase (TERC) revealed a low activity of this enzyme compared to human telomerase, suggesting a low compatibility of equid and human telomerase subunits. This conclusion was also strengthened by comparison of human and equid TERC sequences, which revealed nucleotide differences in key regions for TERC and TERT interaction. We then succeeded in immortalizing equid fibroblasts by expressing hTERT and hTERC concomitantly. Expression of both human telomerase subunits led to telomerase activity and telomere elongation, indicating that human telomerase is compatible with the other equid telomerase subunits and proteins involved in telomere metabolism. The immortalization procedure described herein could be extended to primary cells from other mammals. The availability of immortal cells from endangered species could be particularly useful for obtaining new information on the organization and function of their genomes, which is relevant for their preservation.
Project description:It is well known that human papillomavirus (HPV) is the causative agent of cervical cancer. The integration of HPV genes into the host genome causes the upregulation of E6 and E7 oncogenes. E6 and E7 proteins inactivate and degrade tumor suppressors p53 and retinoblastoma, respectively, leading to malignant progression. HPV E6 and E7 antigens are ideal targets for the development of therapies for cervical cancer and precursor lesions because they are constitutively expressed in infected cells and malignant tumors but not in normal cells and they are essential for cell immortalization and transformation. Immunotherapies are being developed to target E6/E7 by eliciting antigen-specific immune responses. siRNA technologies target E6/E7 by modulating the expression of the oncoproteins. Proteasome inhibitors and histone deacetylase inhibitors are being developed to indirectly target E6/E7 by interfering with their oncogenic activities. The ultimate goal for HPV-targeted therapies is the progression through clinical trials to commercialization.
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:The human papillomavirus (HPV) oncoproteins E6 and E7 are risk factors that are primarily responsible for the initiation and progression of cervical cancer, and they play a key role in immortalization and transformation by reprogramming differentiating host epithelial cells. It is unclear how cervical epithelial cells transform into tumor-initiating cells (TICs). Here, we observed that the germ stem cell protein Piwil2 is expressed in pre-cancerous and malignant lesions of the cervix and cervical cancer cell lines with the exception of the non-HPV-infected C33a cell line. Knockdown of Piwil2 by shRNA led to a marked reduction in proliferation and colony formation, in vivo tumorigenicity, chemo-resistance, and the proportion of cancer stem-like cells. In contrast, Piwil2 overexpression induced malignant transformation of HaCaT cells and the acquisition of tumor-initiating capabilities. Gene-set enrichment analysis revealed embryonic stem cell (ESC) identity, malignant biological behavior, and specifically, activation targets of the cell reprogramming factors c-Myc, Klf4, Nanog, Oct4, and Sox2 in Piwil2-overexpressing HaCaT cells. We further confirmed that E6 and E7 reactivated Piwil2 and that E6 and E7 overexpression resulted in a similar gene-set enrichment pattern as Piwil2 overexpression in HaCaT cells. Moreover, Piwil2 overexpression or E6 and E7 activation induced H3K9 acetylation but reduced H3K9 trimethylation, which contributed to the epigenetic reprogramming and ESC signature maintenance, as predicted previously. Our study demonstrates that Piwil2, reactivated by the HPV oncoproteins E6 and E7, plays an essential role in the transformation of cervical epithelial cells to TICs via epigenetics-based cell reprogramming.
Project description:The expression of hTERT, the catalytic subunit of telomerase, immortalizes normal human urothelial cells (NHUC). Expression of a modified hTERT, without the ability to act in telomere maintenance, did not immortalize NHUC, confirming that effects at telomeres are required for urothelial immortalization. Previous studies indicate that inhibition of telomerase has an immediate effect on urothelial carcinoma (UC) cell line viability, before sufficient divisions to account for telomere attrition, implicating non-telomere effects of telomerase in UC. We analyzed the effects of telomerase on gene expression in isogenic mortal and hTERT-transduced NHUC. hTERT expression led to consistent alterations in the expression of genes predicted to be of phenotypic significance in tumorigenesis. A subset of expression changes were detected soon after transduction with hTERT and persisted with continued culture. These genes (NME5, PSCA, TSPYL5, LY75, IGFBP2, IGF2, CEACAM6, XG, NOX5, KAL1, and HPGD) include eight previously identified as polycomb group targets. TERT-NHUC showed overexpression of the polycomb repressor complex (PRC1 and PRC4) components, BMI1 and SIRT1, and down-regulation of multiple PRC targets and genes associated with differentiation. TERT-NHUC at 100 population doublings, but not soon after transduction, showed increased saturation density and an attenuated differentiation response, indicating that these are not acute effects of telomerase expression. Some of the changes in gene expression identified may contribute to tumorigenesis. Expression of NME5 and NDN was down-regulated in UC cell lines and tumors. Our data supports the concept of both telomere-based and non-telomere effects of telomerase and provides further rationale for the use of telomerase inhibitors in UC.
Project description:The high-risk human papillomavirus E6 proteins have been shown to interact with and lead to degradation of PDZ-domain-containing proteins through its carboxy-terminal motif. This PDZ-binding motif plays important roles in transformation of cultured cells and carcinogenesis of E6-transgenic mice. However, its biological effects on the natural host cells have not been elucidated. We have examined its roles in an in vitro carcinogenesis model for cervical cancer, in which E6 and E7 together with activated HRAS (HRASG12V ) can induce tumorigenic transformation of normal human cervical keratinocytes. In this model, E6?151 mutant, which is defective in binding to PDZ domains, almost lost tumorigenic ability, whereas E6SAT mutant, which is defective in p53 degradation showed activity close to wild-type E6. Interestingly, we found decreased expression of PAR3 in E6-expressing cells independently of E6AP, which has not been previously recognized. Therefore, we knocked down several PDZ-domain containing proteins including PAR3 in human cervical keratinocytes expressing E7, HRASG12V and E6?151 to examine whether depletion of these proteins can restore the tumorigenic ability. Single knockdown of SCRIB, MAGI1 or PAR3 significantly but partially restored the tumorigenic ability. The combinatorial knockdown of SCRIB and MAGI1 cooperatively restored the tumorigenic ability, and additional depletion of PAR3 further enhanced the tumorigenic ability surpassing that induced by wild-type E6. These data highlight the importance of the carboxy-terminal motif of the E6 protein and downregulation of PAR3 in tumorigenic transformation of human cervical keratinocytes.
Project description:Persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) is a major risk factor for cervical cancer. Greater than 90% of these cancers originate in the cervical transformation zone (TZ), a narrow region of metaplastic squamous epithelium that develops at the squamocolumnar junction between the ectocervix and endocervix. It is unclear why the TZ has high susceptibility to malignant transformation and few studies have specifically examined cells from this region. We hypothesized that cells cultured from TZ are more susceptible to cellular immortalization, an alteration that contributes to malignant development. We cultured primary epithelial cells from each region of human cervix (ectocervix, endocervix and TZ) and measured susceptibility to immortalization after transfection with the complete HPV-16 genome or infection of HPV16 E6/E7 retroviruses. Cells cultured from each cervical region expressed keratin markers (keratin 14 and 18) that confirmed their region of origin. In contrast to our prediction, cells from TZ were equally susceptible to immortalization as cells from ectocervix or endocervix. Thus, increased susceptibility of the TZ to cervical carcinogenesis is not due to increased frequency of immortalization by HPV-16. We developed a series of HPV16-immortalized cell lines from ectocervix, endocervix and TZ that will enable comparisons of how these cells respond to factors that promote cervical carcinogenesis.