Activities of human papillomavirus 16 E6 natural variants in human keratinocytes

Yulia Asadurian, Helena Kurilin, Hava Lichtig, Anna Jackman, Pinhas Gonen, Massimo Tommasino, Ingeborg Zehbe, Levana Sherman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Genetic variations in the E6 oncogene have been associated with different risk for cancer progression. In the present study, the functional significance of human papillomavirus (HPV) polymorphism in the E6 oncogene was investigated. Ten HPV16 E6 variants containing amino acid substitutions in the N-terminal region of E6 were evaluated for different biological and biochemical activities in human keratinocytes, the target cells for HPV infection. Western blot analyses of primary foreskin human keratinocytes or immortalized human keratinocytes, stably transduced with the E6 variants, revealed reduced p53 and Bax levels in all E6 expressing cultures. The reduction induced by most E6 proteins was at similar levels and comparable to the reduction induced by the E6 prototype. The ability of the proteins to induce serum/calcium-differentiation resistant colonies in primary keratinocytes was more variable. Overall activities of the variants ranged between 0.24- and 2.18-fold of the E6 prototype activity. The I27R/L83V variant showed the lowest activity whereas the R8Q variant showed the highest activity. The L83V polymorphism previously associated with risk for cancer progression in some populations, showed significant activity, comparable to that of the E6 prototype, in reducing p53 and Bax levels. Furthermore, this variant showed enhancement in the ability to induce colonies resistant to serum/calcium-triggered differentiation, however, the difference from the prototype was not statistically significant. This, and augmentation of other described functions might result in differences in L83V pathogenicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1760
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Medical Virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Bax
  • E6 protein functions
  • HPV polymorphism
  • HPV16 natural variants
  • Human keratinocytes
  • p53


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