HPV16 E6 and E7 proteins cooperate to immortalize human foreskin keratinocytes

EMBO J. 1989 Dec 1;8(12):3905-10.


The human papillomavirus types (HPVs) most often associated with cancer of the cervix, such as HPV16, have been reported previously to immortalize normal human foreskin keratinocytes in vitro, while the types that are primarily associated with benign cervical lesions failed to do so. In this study we have determined the HPV16 genes that are responsible for the immortalizing activity of the viral genome. Transfection with a plasmid in which E6 and E7 were the only intact open reading frames (ORFs) induced an indefinite life-span in the keratinocytes with an efficiency similar to that of the entire early region of the viral DNA. Mutants in the E6E7 clone with inactivating lesions in E6 or E7 failed to induce immortalization. When transfected alone, E7 could induce hyperproliferation, but these cells eventually senesced. By itself, E6 exhibited no activity, Co-transfection of a plasmid with an intact E6 ORF and a second plasmid with an intact E7 ORF generated keratinocyte lines with indefinite growth potential. The E6 and E7 proteins were detected in the lines induced by the E6E7 DNA and by co-transfection of the E6 and E7 plasmids. Therefore, we conclude that HPV16 E6 and E7 cooperative to immortalize human keratinocytes in vitro. Changes in cellular gene expression are probably also required for immortalization since all of the keratinocyte lines examined were aneuploid. Serum and calcium resistant sublines were isolated from the E6E7 induced lines, indicating that other HPV genes do not play an obligatory role in the generation of resistance to differentiation.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • Cell Transformation, Viral* / drug effects
  • Chromosomes, Human / analysis
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / pathology*
  • Mutation
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / physiology*
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics*
  • Papillomaviridae / physiology
  • Plasmids
  • Precipitin Tests
  • Transfection


  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral