Requirement of E6AP and the Features of Human Papillomavirus E6 Necessary to Support Degradation of p53

Virology. 2003 Feb 1;306(1):87-99. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6822(02)00012-0.


E6 oncoproteins from human papillomavirus type 16 (16E6) and Bovine Papillomavirus type 1 (BE6) bind to leucine rich peptides (called charged leucine, LXXLL, or signature peptides) found on target cellular proteins. BE6 and 16E6 both bind the product of the UBE3A gene called E6AP on a charged leucine peptide, LQELL. E6AP is an E3 ubiquitin ligase that together with 16E6 interacts with p53 to target p53 degradation. Although both BE6 and 16E6 bind the LQELL peptide of E6AP, only 16E6 acts as an adapter to then bring p53 to E6AP. In order to determine how E6 proteins function as adapters, 16E6, p53, and E6AP were expressed in yeast, and were shown to form a tri-molecular complex. 16E6 mutants were selected that retained interactions with E6AP yet were defective for interaction with p53. Such 16E6 mutations were typically within the amino-terminus of 16E6. Through the use of E6AP null cells, transfected E6AP was shown to be necessary and sufficient for the degradation of p53 in the presence of 16E6. However, the interaction of 16E6 with E6AP was complex. While BE6 interacts only with the LQELL motif of E6AP, an intact LQELL motif is not necessary either for interaction of 16E6 with E6AP or for p53 degradation. In addition, 16E6 mutants that fail to bind the LQELL motif of E6AP can support p53 degradation. These results indicate that 16E6 may have multiple modes of interaction with E6AP and that assembly of p53 containing complexes for targeted degradation by E6AP may occur in more than one way. These results have implications for potential targeting of the interaction of 16E6 and E6AP in the therapy of HPV-induced cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cell Line
  • Humans
  • Ligases / genetics
  • Ligases / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / chemistry
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / metabolism*
  • Plasmids
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Yeasts / genetics
  • Yeasts / metabolism


  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • protein E6, Bovine papillomavirus
  • UBE3A protein, human
  • Ubiquitin-Protein Ligases
  • Ligases