Human papillomavirus E6 proteins bind p53 in vivo and abrogate p53-mediated repression of transcription

EMBO J. 1992 Aug;11(8):3045-52.


The transforming proteins of DNA tumor viruses SV40, adenovirus and human papillomaviruses (HPV) bind the retinoblastoma and p53 cell cycle regulatory proteins. While the binding of SV40 large T antigen and the adenovirus E1B 55 kDa protein results in the stabilization of the p53 protein, the binding of HPV16 and 18 E6 results in enhanced degradation in vitro. To explore the effect of viral proteins on p53 stability in vivo, we have examined cell lines immortalized in tissue culture by HPV18 E6 and E7 or SV40 large T antigen, as well as cell lines derived from cervical neoplasias. The half-life of the p53 protein in non-transformed human foreskin keratinocytes in culture was found to be approximately 3 h while in cell lines immortalized by E6 and E7, p53 protein half-lives ranged from 2.8 h to less than 1 h. Since equivalent levels of E6 were found in these cells, the range in p53 levels observed was not a result of variability in amounts of E6. In keratinocyte lines immortalized by E7 alone, the p53 half-life was found to be similar to that in non-transformed cells; however, it decreased to approximately 1 h following supertransfection of an E6 gene. These observations are consistent with an interaction of E6 and p53 in vivo resulting in reductions in the stability of p53 ranging between 2- and 4-fold. We also observed that the expression of various TATA containing promoters was repressed in transient assays by co-transfection with plasmids expressing the wild-type p53 gene.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming / genetics
  • Blotting, Northern
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase / genetics
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Female
  • Genes, p53*
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / metabolism*
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics*
  • Plasmids
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA / isolation & purification
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Simian virus 40 / genetics
  • TATA Box
  • Transcription, Genetic*
  • Transfection
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / genetics*
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53 / metabolism*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms


  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 18
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • RNA
  • Chloramphenicol O-Acetyltransferase