Rare human papillomavirus 16 E6 variants reveal significant oncogenic potential

Ingeborg Zehbe, Hava Lichtig, Ashley Westerback, Paul F. Lambert, Massimo Tommasino, Levana Sherman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The aim of this study was to determine whether low prevalence human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E6 variants differ from high prevalence types in their functional abilities. We evaluated functions relevant to carcinogenesis for the rarely-detected European variants R8Q, R10G and R48W as compared to the commonly detected L83V. Human immortalized keratinocytes (NIKS) stably transduced with the E6 variants were used in most functional assays. Low and high prevalence E6 variants displayed similar abilities in abrogation of growth arrest and inhibition of p53 elevation induced by actinomycin D. Differences were detected in the abilities to dysregulate stratification and differentiation of NIKS in organotypic raft cultures, modulate detachment induced apoptosis (anoikis) and hyperactivate Wnt signaling. No distinctive phenotype could be assigned to include all rare variants. Like L83V, raft cultures derived from variants R10G and R48W similarly induced hyperplasia and aberrantly expressed keratin 5 in the suprabasal compartment with significantly lower expression of keratin 10. Unlike L83V, both variants, and particularly R48W, induced increased levels of anoikis upon suspension in semisolid medium. R8Q induced a unique phenotype characterized by thin organotypic raft cultures, low expression of keratin 10, and high expression of keratins 5 and 14 throughout all raft layers. Interestingly, in a reporter based assay R8Q exhibited a higher ability to augment TCF/β-catenin transcription. The data suggests that differences in E6 variant prevalence in cervical carcinoma may not be related to the carcinogenic potential of the E6 protein.

Original languageEnglish
Article number77
JournalMolecular Cancer
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2011


FundersFunder number
National Institutes of HealthCA098428
National Cancer InstituteP01CA022443
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan1841
Ministry of Culture and Sport


    Dive into the research topics of 'Rare human papillomavirus 16 E6 variants reveal significant oncogenic potential'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this