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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

In vitro biological activities of the E6 and E7 genes vary among human papillomaviruses of different oncogenic potential.

Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) and HPV-18 are often detected in cervical carcinomas, while HPV-6, although frequently present in benign genital lesions, is only rarely present in cancers of the cervix. Therefore, infections with HPV-16 and HPV-18 are considered high risk and infection with HPV-6 is considered low risk. We found, by using a heterologous promoter system, that expression of the E7 transforming protein differs between high- and low-risk HPVs. In high-risk HPV-16, E7 is expressed from constructs containing the complete upstream E6 open reading frame. In contrast, HPV-6 E7 was efficiently translated only when E6 was deleted. By using clones in which the coding regions of HPV-6, HPV-16, and HPV-18 E7s were preceded by identical leader sequences, we found that the ability of the E7 gene products to induce anchorage-independent growth in rodent fibroblasts correlated directly with the oncogenic association of the HPV types. By using an immortalization assay of normal human keratinocytes that requires complementation of E6 and E7, we found that both E6 and E7 of HPV-18 could complement the corresponding gene from HPV-16. However, neither E6 nor E7 from HPV-6 was able to substitute for the corresponding gene of HPV-16 or HPV-18. Our results suggest that multiple factors, including lower intrinsic biological activity of E6 and E7 and differences in the regulation of their expression, account for the low activity of HPV-6, in comparison with HPV-16 and HPV-18, in in vitro assays. These same factors may, in part, account for the apparent difference in oncogenic potential between these viruses.[1]


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