The present study investigated the roles of E6 and E6AP in the Wnt pathway. We showed that E6 levels are markedly reduced in cells in which Wnt signaling is activated. Coexpression of wild-type or mutant E6AP (C820A) in Wnt-activated cells stabilized E6 and enhanced Wnt/β-catenin/TCF transcription. Expression of E6AP alone in nonstimulated cells elevated β-catenin level, promoted its nuclear accumulation, and activated β-catenin/TCF transcription. A knockdown of E6AP lowered β-catenin levels. Coexpression with E6 intensified the activities of E6AP. Further experiments proved that E6AP/E6 stabilize β-catenin by protecting it from proteasomal degradation. This function was dependent on the catalytic activity of E6AP, the kinase activity of GSK3β and the susceptibility of β-catenin to GSK3β phosphorylation. Thus, this study identified E6AP as a novel regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway, capable of cooperating with E6 in stimulating or augmenting Wnt/β-catenin signaling, thereby possibly contributing to HPV carcinogenesis.
Keywords: E6AP; GSK3β; HPV E6; HPV E7; Wnt signaling; β-catenin.
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