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1.  The Human Papillomavirus E6 Oncogene Represses a Cell Adhesion Pathway and Disrupts Focal Adhesion through Degradation of TAp63β upon Transformation 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(9):e1002256.
Cervical carcinomas result from cellular transformation by the human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 and E7 oncogenes which are constitutively expressed in cancer cells. The E6 oncogene degrades p53 thereby modulating a large set of p53 target genes as shown previously in the cervical carcinoma cell line HeLa. Here we show that the TAp63β isoform of the p63 transcription factor is also a target of E6. The p63 gene plays an essential role in skin homeostasis and is expressed as at least six isoforms. One of these isoforms, ΔNp63α, has been found overexpressed in squamous cell carcinomas and is shown here to be constitutively expressed in Caski cells associated with HPV16. We therefore explored the role of p63 in these cells by performing microarray analyses after repression of endogenous E6/E7 expression. Upon repression of the oncogenes, a large set of p53 target genes was found activated together with many p63 target genes related to cell adhesion. However, through siRNA silencing and ectopic expression of various p63 isoforms we demonstrated that TAp63β is involved in activation of this cell adhesion pathway instead of the constitutively expressed ΔNp63α and β. Furthermore, we showed in cotransfection experiments, combined with E6AP siRNA silencing, that E6 induces an accelerated degradation of TAp63β although not through the E6AP ubiquitin ligase used for degradation of p53. Repression of E6 transcription also induces stabilization of endogenous TAp63β in cervical carcinoma cells that lead to an increased concentration of focal adhesions at the cell surface. Consequently, TAp63β is the only p63 isoform suppressed by E6 in cervical carcinoma as demonstrated previously for p53. Down-modulation of focal adhesions through disruption of TAp63β therefore appears as a novel E6-dependent pathway in transformation. These findings identify a major physiological role for TAp63β in anchorage independent growth that might represent a new critical pathway in human carcinogenesis.
Author Summary
High-risk human papillomavirus infection can cause cancer of the uterine cervix. The viral proteins leading to transformation of the infected keratinocytes are the E6 and E7 oncogenes which interact with and induce degradation of the cell cycle regulators p53 and pRB. In cervical carcinoma cells, repression of E6/E7 stabilizes the p53 transcription factor leading to activation of a large group of cellular p53 target genes. Here we show that repression of E6/E7 also induces transcriptional activation of an additional large set of genes involved in cell adhesion including previously described p63 target genes. Indeed, we further demonstrated that these p63 target genes are activated by TAp63β and not by p53 or by the ΔNp63α or β isoforms, even though these transcription factors are also expressed in these cells. In cervical carcinoma cells, E6 expression therefore leads to TAp63β degradation thereby allowing anchorage independent growth. Our work describes a new E6-dependent transformation pathway in HPV-associated carcinogenesis. TAp63β inhibition may also represent a common pathway to activate anchorage independent growth in cancers.
PMCID: PMC3182928  PMID: 21980285
2.  Berberine modulates AP-1 activity to suppress HPV transcription and downstream signaling to induce growth arrest and apoptosis in cervical cancer cells 
Molecular Cancer  2011;10:39.
Specific types of high risk Human papillomaviruses (HR-HPVs) particularly, HPV types 16 and 18 cause cervical cancer and while the two recently developed vaccines against these HPV types are prophylactic in nature, therapeutic options for treatment and management of already existing HPV infection are not available as yet. Because transcription factor, Activator Protein-1 (AP-1) plays a central role in HPV-mediated cervical carcinogenesis, we explored the possibility of its therapeutic targeting by berberine, a natural alkaloid derived from a medicinal plant species, Berberis which has been shown to possess anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties with no known toxicity; however, the effect of berberine against HPV has not been elucidated.
We studied the effect of berberine on HPV16-positive cervical cancer cell line, SiHa and HPV18-positive cervical cancer cell line, HeLa using electrophoretic mobility gel shift assays, western and northern blotting which showed that berberine could selectively inhibit constitutively activated AP-1 in a dose- and time-dependent manner and downregulates HPV oncogenes expression. Inhibition of AP-1 was also accompanied by changes in the composition of their DNA-binding complex. Berberine specifically downregulated expression of oncogenic c-Fos which was also absent in the AP-1 binding complex. Treatment with berberine resulted in repression of E6 and E7 levels and concomitant increase in p53 and Rb expression in both cell types. Berberine also suppressed expression of telomerase protein, hTERT, which translated into growth inhibition of cervical cancer cells. Interestingly, a higher concentration of berberine was found to reduce the cell viability through mitochondria-mediated pathway and induce apoptosis by activating caspase-3.
These results indicate that berberine can effectively target both the host and viral factors responsible for development of cervical cancer through inhibition of AP-1 and blocking viral oncoproteins E6 and E7 expression. Inhibition of AP-1 activity by berberine may be one of the mechanisms responsible for the anti-HPV effect of berberine. We propose that berberine is a potentially promising compound for the treatment of cervical cancer infected with HPV.
PMCID: PMC3098825  PMID: 21496227
3.  Tumor suppressive microRNA-218 inhibits cancer cell migration and invasion by targeting focal adhesion pathways in cervical squamous cell carcinoma 
International Journal of Oncology  2013;42(5):1523-1532.
Cervical cancer is one of the most common cancers in women. More than 275,100 women die from cervical cancer each year. Cervical squamous cell carcinoma (cervical SCC), one of the most frequent types of cervical cancers, is associated with high-risk human papilloma virus (HPV), although HPV infection alone may not be enough to induce malignant transformation. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNAs, regulate protein-coding gene expression by repressing translation or cleaving RNA transcripts in a sequence-specific manner. A growing body of evidence suggests that miRNAs contribute to cervical SCC progression, development and metastasis. miRNA expression signatures in SCC (hypopharyngeal SCC and esophageal SCC) revealed that miR-218 expression was significantly reduced in cancer tissues compared with adjacent non-cancerous epithelium, suggesting that miR-218 is a candidate tumor suppressor. The aim of this study was to investigate the functional significance of miR-218 in cervical SCC and to identify novel miR-218-mediated cancer pathways in cervical SCC. Restoration of miR-218 significantly inhibited cancer cell migration and invasion in both HPV-positive and HPV-negative cervical SCC cell lines. These data indicated that miR-218 acts as a tumor suppressor in cervical SCC. Our in silico analysis showed that miR-218 appeared to be an important modulator of tumor cell processes through suppression of many targets, particularly those involved in focal adhesion signaling pathways. Gene expression data indicated that LAMB3, a laminin protein known to influence cell differentiation, migration, adhesion, proliferation and survival, was upregulated in cervical SCC clinical specimens, and silencing studies demonstrated that LAMB3 functioned as an oncogene in cervical SCC. The identification of novel tumor-suppressive miR-218-mediated molecular pathways has provided new insights into cervical SCC oncogenesis and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3661225  PMID: 23483249
microRNA; miR-218; tumor suppressor; cervical cancer; LAMB3; focal adhesion
4.  Morphoproteomic Evidence of Constitutively Activated and Overexpressed mTOR Pathway in Cervical Squamous Carcinoma and High Grade Squamous Intraepithelial Lesions 
Human papilloma virus (HPV) infection of the uterine cervix is linked to the pathogenesis of cervical cancer. Preclinical in vitro and in vivo studies using HPV-containing human cervical carcinoma cell lines have shown that the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitor, rapamycin, and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-tyrosine kinase inhibitor, erlotinib, can induce growth delay of xenografts. Activation of Akt and mTOR are also observed in cervical squamous cell carcinoma and, the expression of phosphorylated mTOR was reported to serve as a marker to predict response to chemotherapy and survival of cervical cancer patients. Therefore, we investigated: a) the expression level of EGFR in cervical squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and high-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL) versus non-neoplastic cervical squamous epithelium; b) the state of activation of the mTOR pathway in these same tissues; and c) any impact of these signal transduction molecules on cell cycle. Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue microarray blocks containing 20 samples each of normal cervix, HSIL and invasive SCC, derived from a total of 60 cases of cervical biopsies and cervical conizations were examined. Immunohistochemistry was utilized to detect the following antigens: EGFR; mTOR pathway markers, phosphorylated (p)-mTOR (Ser2448) and p-p70S6K (Thr389); and cell cycle associated proteins, Ki-67 and S phase kinase-associated protein (Skp)2. Protein compartmentalization and expression were quantified in regard to proportion (0-100%) and intensity (0-3+). Mitotic index (MI) was also assessed. An expression index (EI) for pmTOR, p-p70S6K and EGFR, respectively was calculated by taking the product of intensity score and proportion of positively staining cells. We found that plasmalemmal EGFR expression was limited to the basal/parabasal cells (2-3+, EI = 67) in normal cervical epithelium (NL), but was diffusely positive in all HSIL (EI = 237) and SCC (EI 226). The pattern of cytoplasmic p-mTOR and nuclear p-p70S6K expression was similar to that of EGFR; all showed a significantly increased EI in HSIL/SCC versus NL (p<0.02). Nuclear translocation of p-mTOR was observed in all SCC lesions (EI = 202) and was significantly increased versus both HSIL (EI = 89) and NL (EI = 54) with p<0.015 and p<0.0001, respectively. Concomitant increases in MI and proportion of nuclear Ki-67 and Skp2 expression were noted in HSIL and SCC. In conclusion, morphoproteomic analysis reveals constitutive activation and overexpression of the mTOR pathway in HSIL and SCC as evidenced by: increased nuclear translocation of pmTOR and p-p70S6K, phosphorylated at putative sites of activation, Ser2448 and Thr389, respectively; correlative overexpression of the upstream signal transducer, EGFR, and increases in cell cycle correlates, Skp2 and mitotic indices. These results suggest that the mTOR pathway plays a key role in cervical carcinogenesis and targeted therapies may be developed for SCC as well as its precursor lesion, HSIL.
PMCID: PMC2600462  PMID: 19079619
mTOR pathway; cervical squamous carcinoma; high grade SIL; morphoproteomics
5.  Oncogenic Human Papillomaviruses Activate the Tumor-Associated Lens Epithelial-Derived Growth Factor (LEDGF) Gene 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(3):e1003957.
The expression of the human papillomavirus (HPV) E6/E7 oncogenes is crucial for HPV-induced malignant cell transformation. The identification of cellular targets attacked by the HPV oncogenes is critical for our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of HPV-associated carcinogenesis and may open novel therapeutic opportunities. Here, we identify the Lens Epithelial-Derived Growth Factor (LEDGF) gene as a novel cellular target gene for the HPV oncogenes. Elevated LEDGF expression has been recently linked to human carcinogenesis and can protect tumor cells towards different forms of cellular stress. We show that intracellular LEDGF mRNA and protein levels in HPV-positive cancer cells are critically dependent on the maintenance of viral oncogene expression. Ectopic E6/E7 expression stimulates LEDGF transcription in primary keratinocytes, at least in part via activation of the LEDGF promoter. Repression of endogenous LEDGF expression by RNA interference results in an increased sensitivity of HPV-positive cancer cells towards genotoxic agents. Immunohistochemical analyses of cervical tissue specimens reveal a highly significant increase of LEDGF protein levels in HPV-positive lesions compared to histologically normal cervical epithelium. Taken together, these results indicate that the E6/E7-dependent maintenance of intracellular LEDGF expression is critical for protecting HPV-positive cancer cells against various forms of cellular stress, including DNA damage. This could support tumor cell survival and contribute to the therapeutic resistance of cervical cancers towards genotoxic treatment strategies in the clinic.
Author Summary
Specific types of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are closely linked to the development of malignant tumors, such as cervical cancer. Virtually all cervical cancers contain HPV DNA and the tumorigenic growth behavior of cervical cancer cells is dependent on the activity of two viral oncogenes, called E6 and E7. It is important to study the activities by which the HPV oncogenes can support the growth of tumor cells. This should allow new insights into the molecular mechanisms of virus-induced carcinogenesis and could also be useful for developing novel approaches for cancer therapy. We here show that the HPV oncogenes stimulate and maintain expression of the cellular LEDGF gene in HPV-positive cancer cells. Consistently, pre-malignant and malignant lesions of the cervix exhibit significantly increased LEDGF protein levels. LEDGF is crucial for the protection of tumor cells against various forms of cellular stress, including DNA damage. LEDGF stimulation by the viral oncogenes could be a critical survival mechanism by which HPVs support the growth of cervical cancer cells and provide resistance towards chemo- and radiotherapy in the clinic.
PMCID: PMC3946365  PMID: 24604027
6.  Papillomavirus-Mediated Neoplastic Progression Is Associated with Reciprocal Changes in Jagged1 and Manic Fringe Expression Linked to Notch Activation†  
Journal of Virology  2004;78(16):8687-8700.
Infection by high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) and persistent expression of viral oncogenes E6 and E7 are causally linked to the development of cervical cancer. These oncogenes are necessary but insufficient for complete transformation of human epithelial cells in vivo. Intracellular Notch1 protein is detected in invasive cervical carcinomas (ICC), and truncated Notch1 alleles complement the function of E6/E7 in the transformation of human epithelial cells. Here we investigate potential mechanisms of Notch activation in a human cervical neoplasia. We have analyzed human cervical lesions and serial passages of an HPV type 16-positive human cervical low-grade lesion-derived cell line, W12, that shows abnormalities resembling those seen in cervical neoplastic progression in vivo. Late-passage, but not early-passage, W12 and progression of the majority of human high-grade cervical lesions to ICC showed upregulation of Notch ligand and Jagged1 and downregulation of Manic Fringe, a negative regulator of Jagged1-Notch1 signaling. Concomitantly, an increase in Notch/CSL (CBF1, Suppressor of Hairless, Lag1)-driven reporter activity and a decrease in Manic Fringe upstream regulatory region (MFng-URR)-driven reporter activity was observed in late-passage versus early passage W12. Analysis of the MFng-URR revealed that Notch signaling represses this gene through Hairy Enhancer of Split 1, a transcriptional target of the Notch pathway. Expression of Manic Fringe by a recombinant adenovirus, dominant-negative Jagged1, or small interfering RNA against Jagged1 inhibits the tumorigenicity of CaSki, an ICC-derived cell line that was previously shown to be susceptible to growth inhibition induced by antisense Notch1. We suggest that activation of Notch in cervical neoplasia is Jagged1 dependent and that its susceptibility to the influence of Manic Fringe is of therapeutic value.
PMCID: PMC479091  PMID: 15280477
7.  The JAK-STAT Transcriptional Regulator, STAT-5, Activates the ATM DNA Damage Pathway to Induce HPV 31 Genome Amplification upon Epithelial Differentiation 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(4):e1003295.
High-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) must evade innate immune surveillance to establish persistent infections and to amplify viral genomes upon differentiation. Members of the JAK-STAT family are important regulators of the innate immune response and HPV proteins downregulate expression of STAT-1 to allow for stable maintenance of viral episomes. STAT-5 is another member of this pathway that modulates the inflammatory response and plays an important role in controlling cell cycle progression in response to cytokines and growth factors. Our studies show that HPV E7 activates STAT-5 phosphorylation without altering total protein levels. Inhibition of STAT-5 phosphorylation by the drug pimozide abolishes viral genome amplification and late gene expression in differentiating keratinocytes. In contrast, treatment of undifferentiated cells that stably maintain episomes has no effect on viral replication. Knockdown studies show that the STAT-5β isoform is mainly responsible for this activity and that this is mediated through the ATM DNA damage response. A downstream target of STAT-5, the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) contributes to the effects on members of the ATM pathway. Overall, these findings identify an important new regulatory mechanism by which the innate immune regulator, STAT-5, promotes HPV viral replication through activation of the ATM DNA damage response.
Author Summary
Over 120 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been identified, and approximately one-third of these infect epithelial cells of the genital mucosa. A subset of HPV types are the causative agents of cervical and other anogenital cancers. The infectious life cycle of HPV is dependent on differentiation of the host epithelial cell, with viral genome amplification and virion production restricted to differentiated suprabasal cells. While normal keratinocytes exit the cell cycle upon differentiation, HPV-positive suprabasal cells are able to re-enter S-phase to mediate productive replication. HPV induces an ATM-dependent DNA damage response in differentiating cells that is essential for viral genome amplification. Our studies describe an important mechanism by which human papillomaviruses activate a member of the JAK/STAT innate immune signaling pathway to induce the ATM DNA damage pathway. This is necessary for differentiation-dependent productive viral replication. HPVs must suppress the transcription of one member of the JAK/STAT pathway, STAT-1, while at the same time activating STAT-5 to regulate genome amplification in suprabasal cells. The E7 protein activates STAT-5 leading to induction of ATM phosphorylation through the PPARγ pathway. Our study identifies important links between innate immune signaling, the ATM DNA damage pathway and productive HPV replication that may lead to the characterization of new targets for the development of therapeutics to treat HPV-induced infections.
PMCID: PMC3616964  PMID: 23593005
8.  Aberrant Cell Cycle Regulation in Cervical Carcinoma 
Yonsei Medical Journal  2005;46(5):597-613.
Carcinoma of the uterine cervix is one of the most common malignancies among women worldwide. Human papillomaviruses (HPV) have been identified as the major etiological factor in cervical carcinogenesis. However, the time lag between HPV infection and the diagnosis of cancer indicates that multiple steps, as well as multiple factors, may be necessary for the development of cervical cancer. The development and progression of cervical carcinoma have been shown to be dependent on various genetic and epigenetic events, especially alterations in the cell cycle checkpoint machinery. In mammalian cells, control of the cell cycle is regulated by the activity of cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) and their essential activating coenzymes, the cyclins. Generally, CDKs, cyclins, and CDK inhibitors function within several pathways, including the p16INK4A-cyclin D1-CDK4/6-pRb-E2F, p21WAF1-p27KIP1-cyclinE-CDK2, and p14ARF-MDM2-p53 pathways. The results from several studies showed aberrant regulation of several cell cycle proteins, such as cyclin D, cyclin E, p16INK4A, p21WAF1, and p27KIP1, as characteristic features of HPV-infected and HPV E6/E7 oncogene-expressing cervical carcinomas and their precursors. These data suggested further that interactions of viral proteins with host cellular proteins, particularly cell cycle proteins, are involved in the activation or repression of cell cycle progression in cervical carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2810564  PMID: 16259056
Cell cycle; cervical carcinoma; cyclin
9.  Discovery of DNA methylation markers in cervical cancer using relaxation ranking 
BMC Medical Genomics  2008;1:57.
To discover cancer specific DNA methylation markers, large-scale screening methods are widely used. The pharmacological unmasking expression microarray approach is an elegant method to enrich for genes that are silenced and re-expressed during functional reversal of DNA methylation upon treatment with demethylation agents. However, such experiments are performed in in vitro (cancer) cell lines, mostly with poor relevance when extrapolating to primary cancers. To overcome this problem, we incorporated data from primary cancer samples in the experimental design. A strategy to combine and rank data from these different data sources is essential to minimize the experimental work in the validation steps.
To apply a new relaxation ranking algorithm to enrich DNA methylation markers in cervical cancer.
The application of a new sorting methodology allowed us to sort high-throughput microarray data from both cervical cancer cell lines and primary cervical cancer samples. The performance of the sorting was analyzed in silico. Pathway and gene ontology analysis was performed on the top-selection and gives a strong indication that the ranking methodology is able to enrich towards genes that might be methylated. Terms like regulation of progression through cell cycle, positive regulation of programmed cell death as well as organ development and embryonic development are overrepresented. Combined with the highly enriched number of imprinted and X-chromosome located genes, and increased prevalence of known methylation markers selected from cervical (the highest-ranking known gene is CCNA1) as well as from other cancer types, the use of the ranking algorithm seems to be powerful in enriching towards methylated genes.
Verification of the DNA methylation state of the 10 highest-ranking genes revealed that 7/9 (78%) gene promoters showed DNA methylation in cervical carcinomas. Of these 7 genes, 3 (SST, HTRA3 and NPTX1) are not methylated in normal cervix tissue.
The application of this new relaxation ranking methodology allowed us to significantly enrich towards methylation genes in cancer. This enrichment is both shown in silico and by experimental validation, and revealed novel methylation markers as proof-of-concept that might be useful in early cancer detection in cervical scrapings.
PMCID: PMC2605750  PMID: 19025626
10.  CpG Methylation of Human Papillomavirus Type 16 DNA in Cervical Cancer Cell Lines and in Clinical Specimens: Genomic Hypomethylation Correlates with Carcinogenic Progression 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(11):6227-6234.
Infection with genital human papillomaviruses (HPVs) is the primary cause of cervical cancer. The infection is widespread, and little is known about the secondary factors associated with progression from subclinical infection to invasive carcinoma. Here we report that HPV genomes are efficiently targeted in vivo by CpG methylation, a well-known mechanism of transcriptional repression. Indeed, it has been shown previously that in vitro-methylated HPV type 16 (HPV-16) DNA is transcriptionally repressed after transfection into cell cultures. By using a scan with the restriction enzyme McrBC, we observed a conserved profile of CpG hyper- and hypomethylation throughout the HPV-16 genomes of the tumor-derived cell lines SiHa and CaSki. Methylation is particularly high in genomic segments overlying the late genes, while the long control region (LCR) and the oncogenes are unmethylated in the single HPV-16 copy in SiHa cells. In 81 patients from two different cohorts, the LCR and the E6 gene of HPV-16 DNA were found to be hypermethylated in 52% of asymptomatic smears, 21.7% of precursor lesions, and 6.1% of invasive carcinomas. This suggests that neoplastic transformation may be suppressed by CpG methylation, while demethylation occurs as the cause of or concomitant with neoplastic progression. These prevalences of hyper- and hypomethylation also indicate that CpG methylation plays an important role in the papillomavirus life cycle, which takes place in asymptomatic infections and precursor lesions but not in carcinomas. Bisulfite modification revealed that in most of the HPV-16 genomes of CaSki cells and of asymptomatic patients, all 11 CpG dinucleotides that overlap with the enhancer and the promoter were methylated, while in SiHa cells and cervical lesions, the same 11 or a subset of CpGs remained unmethylated. Our report introduces papillomaviruses as models to study the mechanism of CpG methylation, opens research on the importance of this mechanism during the viral life cycle, and provides a marker relevant for the etiology and diagnosis of cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC154984  PMID: 12743279
11.  Epstein-Barr Virus Down-Regulates Tumor Suppressor DOK1 Expression 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(5):e1004125.
The DOK1 tumor suppressor gene encodes an adapter protein that acts as a negative regulator of several signaling pathways. We have previously reported that DOK1 expression is up-regulated upon cellular stress, via the transcription factor E2F1, and down-regulated in a variety of human malignancies due to aberrant hypermethylation of its promoter. Here we show that Epstein Barr virus (EBV) infection of primary human B-cells leads to the down-regulation of DOK1 gene expression via the viral oncoprotein LMP1. LMP1 alone induces recruitment to the DOK1 promoter of at least two independent inhibitory complexes, one containing E2F1/pRB/DNMT1 and another containing at least EZH2. These events result in tri-methylation of histone H3 at lysine 27 (H3K27me3) of the DOK1 promoter and gene expression silencing. We also present evidence that the presence of additional EBV proteins leads to further repression of DOK1 expression with an additional mechanism. Indeed, EBV infection of B-cells induces DNA methylation at the DOK1 promoter region including the E2F1 responsive elements that, in turn, lose the ability to interact with E2F complexes. Treatment of EBV-infected B-cell-lines with the methyl-transferase inhibitor 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine rescues DOK1 expression. In summary, our data show the deregulation of DOK1 gene expression by EBV and provide novel insights into the regulation of the DOK1 tumor suppressor in viral-related carcinogenesis.
Author Summary
Many oncogenic viruses exhibit cellular transforming properties, often involving oncogenes activation and tumor suppressor genes inactivation. The DOK1 gene is a newly identified tumor suppressor gene with altered expression via hypermethylation of its promoter in a variety of human cancers, including head and neck, lung, gastric and others. In addition, a correlation has been reported between DOK1 aberrant hypermethylation and the presence of oncogenic viruses such as hepatitis B virus (HBV) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in Burkitt's lymphoma-derived cell lines. Here we demonstrate for the first time that EBV is directly involved in the inhibition of DOK1 expression in B-cells. We show that EBV leads to epigenetic repression of DOK1 through increased DNA methylation of its promoter and H3K27 tri-methylation. The LMP1 oncoprotein plays a key role in the repression of DOK1 expression. It promotes the formation and the recruitment to the DOK1 promoter of transcriptionally inhibitory complexes composed of E2F1/pRB/DNMT1 and of EZH2 which is part of the polycomb repressive complex 2. Interestingly, one or more additional EBV protein(s) cooperate(s) with LMP1 in inducing massive DNA methylation at the DOK1 promoter, leading to the loss of E2F1 complexes recruitment and even stronger repression of DOK1 expression.
PMCID: PMC4014463  PMID: 24809689
12.  Hepatitis C Virus Induces E6AP-Dependent Degradation of the Retinoblastoma Protein 
PLoS Pathogens  2007;3(9):e139.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive-strand RNA virus that frequently causes persistent infections and is uniquely associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma. While the mechanism(s) by which the virus promotes cancer are poorly defined, previous studies indicate that the HCV RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, nonstructural protein 5B (NS5B), forms a complex with the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor protein (pRb), targeting it for degradation, activating E2F-responsive promoters, and stimulating cellular proliferation. Here, we describe the mechanism underlying pRb regulation by HCV and its relevance to HCV infection. We show that the abundance of pRb is strongly downregulated, and its normal nuclear localization altered to include a major cytoplasmic component, following infection of cultured hepatoma cells with either genotype 1a or 2a HCV. We further demonstrate that this is due to NS5B-dependent ubiquitination of pRb and its subsequent degradation via the proteasome. The NS5B-dependent ubiquitination of pRb requires the ubiquitin ligase activity of E6-associated protein (E6AP), as pRb abundance was restored by siRNA knockdown of E6AP or overexpression of a dominant-negative E6AP mutant in cells containing HCV RNA replicons. E6AP also forms a complex with pRb in an NS5B-dependent manner. These findings suggest a novel mechanism for the regulation of pRb in which the HCV NS5B protein traps pRb in the cytoplasm, and subsequently recruits E6AP to this complex in a process that leads to the ubiquitination of pRb. The disruption of pRb/E2F regulatory pathways in cells infected with HCV is likely to promote hepatocellular proliferation and chromosomal instability, factors important for the development of liver cancer.
Author Summary
Persons infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) are at increased risk for liver cancer. This is remarkable because HCV is an RNA virus with replication confined to the cytoplasm and no potential for integration of its genome into host cell DNA. While it is likely that chronic inflammation contributes to liver cancer, prior studies with HCV transgenic mice indicate that the viral proteins are intrinsically carcinogenic. In this study, we have examined the interaction of one of these, the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase nonstructural protein 5B, with an important cellular tumor suppressor protein, the retinoblastoma protein (pRb). pRb is a master regulator of the cell cycle, and altered expression of some of the many genes it regulates may lead to cancer. We show that the abundance of pRb is strongly downregulated in cells infected with HCV, and that nonstructural protein 5B targets pRb for destruction via the cell's normal protein degradation machinery. The E6-associated protein appears to play a role in this process, which is interesting as it also mediates the degradation of another tumor suppressor, p53, by papillomaviruses. The loss of pRb function in HCV-infected cells likely promotes hepatocellular proliferation as well chromosomal instability, factors important for the development of liver cancer.
PMCID: PMC2323300  PMID: 17907805
13.  Protein domains governing interactions between E2F, the retinoblastoma gene product, and human papillomavirus type 16 E7 protein. 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  1993;13(2):953-960.
Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the etiological agents for genital warts and contribute to the development of cervical cancer in humans. The HPV E7 gene product is expressed in these diseases, and the E7 genes from HPV types 16 and 18 contribute to transformation in mammalian cells. Mutation and deletion analysis of this gene suggests that the transforming activity of the protein product resides in the same domain as that which is directly involved in complex formation with the retinoblastoma gene product (pRB). This domain is one of two conserved regions (designated CRI and CRII) shared by E7 and other viral oncoproteins which bind pRB, including adenovirus E1A protein. Binding of HPV type 16 E7 protein to pRB has previously been shown to affect pRB's ability to bind DNA and to form complexes with other cellular proteins. In the current study, we map the functional interaction between E7 protein and pRB by monitoring the association between a 60-kDa version of the pRB, pRB60, and the cellular transcription factor E2F. We observe that CRII of E7 (amino acids 20 to 29), which completely blocks binding of full-length E7 protein, is necessary but not sufficient to inhibit E2F/pRB60 complex formation. While CRI of E1A (amino acids 37 to 55) appears to be sufficient to compete with E2F for binding to pRB60, the equivalent region of E7 is neither necessary nor sufficient. Only E7 fragments that contained both CRII and at least a portion of the zinc-binding domain (amino acids 60 to 98) inhibited E2F/pRB60 complex formation. These results suggest that pRB60 associates with E7 and E2F through overlapping but distinct domains.
PMCID: PMC358979  PMID: 7678696
14.  Human Papillomavirus 16 Oncoprotein E7 Stimulates UBF1-Mediated rDNA Gene Transcription, Inhibiting a p53-Independent Activity of p14ARF 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96136.
High-risk human papillomavirus oncoproteins E6 and E7 play a major role in HPV-related cancers. One of the main functions of E7 is the degradation of pRb, while E6 promotes the degradation of p53, inactivating the p14ARF-p53 pathway. pRb and p14ARF can repress ribosomal DNA (rDNA) transcription in part by targeting the Upstream Binding Factor 1 (UBF1), a key factor in the activation of RNA polymerase I machinery. We showed, through ectopic expression and siRNA silencing of p14ARF and/or E7, that E7 stimulates UBF1-mediated rDNA gene transcription, partly because of increased levels of phosphorylated UBF1, preventing the inhibitory function of p14ARF. Unexpectedly, activation of rDNA gene transcription was higher in cells co-expressing p14ARF and E7, compared to cells expressing E7 alone. We did not find a difference in P-UBF1 levels that could explain this data. However, p14ARF expression induced E7 to accumulate into the nucleolus, where rDNA transcription takes place, providing an opportunity for E7 to interact with nucleolar proteins involved in this process. GST-pull down and co-immunoprecipitation assays showed interactions between p14ARF, UBF1 and E7, although p14ARF and E7 are not able to directly interact. Co-expression of a pRb-binding-deficient mutant (E7C24G) and p14ARF resulted in EC24G nucleolar accumulation, but not in a significant higher activation of rDNA transcription, suggesting that the inactivation of pRb is involved in this phenomenon. Thus, p14ARF fails to prevent E7-mediated UBF1 phosphorylation, but could facilitate nucleolar pRb inactivation by targeting E7 to the nucleolus. While others have reported that p19ARF, the mouse homologue of p14ARF, inhibits some functions of E7, we showed that E7 inhibits a p53-independent function of p14ARF. These results point to a mutually functional interaction between p14ARF and E7 that might partly explain why the sustained p14ARF expression observed in most cervical pre-malignant lesions and malignancies may be ineffective.
PMCID: PMC4010441  PMID: 24798431
15.  Reversible repression of papillomavirus oncogene expression in cervical carcinoma cells: consequences for the phenotype and E6-p53 and E7-pRB interactions. 
Journal of Virology  1994;68(5):2811-2821.
The transforming genes E6 and E7 of high-risk human papillomaviruses are consistently expressed in papillomavirus-associated neoplasms of the anogenital tract. In papillomavirus type 18-associated SW 756 cervical carcinoma cells, transcription of the viral E6-E7 genes is blocked by dexamethasone. Herein we show that dexamethasone-mediated repression of the E6-E7 genes results in loss of the neoplastic phenotype of SW 756 cells. Withdrawal of dexamethasone restores E6-E7 expression and neoplastic growth. Moreover, reconstitution of E6-E7 gene expression by a dexamethasone-inducible expression vector renders the neoplastic phenotype resistant to dexamethasone. These results clearly indicate that the continuous expression of the viral E6-E7 oncogenes is required to maintain the neoplastic growth properties of SW 756 cervical cancer cells. The viral E6 protein destabilizes the p53 tumor suppressor gene product in vitro. Since low levels of p53 have been observed in papillomavirus-transformed keratinocyte cell lines, it was speculated that degradation of p53 by E6 contributes to papillomavirus-associated growth deregulation. Consistent with this hypothesis, we detected a significant increase in p53 levels upon dexamethasone-induced repression of papillomavirus E6-E7 oncogene expression. No p53 increase was observed in dexamethasone-treated cells in which the viral oncogene expression was restored. The viral E7 protein has been shown to complex with the retinoblastoma tumor suppressor gene product (pRB). In some cells, this interaction has been shown shown to release the transcription factor E2F from its complex with pRB, and it has been hypothesized that E7-induced, increased levels of free E2F contribute to the transforming potential of the viral oncogenes. In gel shift experiments, we detected relatively stable complexes of pRB and E2F in all SW 756-derived cells, independent of the level of E7 expression. This suggests that E7-mediated release of E2F from its complex with pRB might not be required to maintain the neoplastic phenotype of human papillomavirus-associated cancer cells, although a possibly relevant partial E7-mediated release of E2F from pRB cannot be excluded.
PMCID: PMC236769  PMID: 8151752
16.  Low Levels of p53 Protein and Chromatin Silencing of p53 Target Genes Repress Apoptosis in Drosophila Endocycling Cells 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(9):e1004581.
Apoptotic cell death is an important response to genotoxic stress that prevents oncogenesis. It is known that tissues can differ in their apoptotic response, but molecular mechanisms are little understood. Here, we show that Drosophila polyploid endocycling cells (G/S cycle) repress the apoptotic response to DNA damage through at least two mechanisms. First, the expression of all the Drosophila p53 protein isoforms is strongly repressed at a post-transcriptional step. Second, p53-regulated pro-apoptotic genes are epigenetically silenced in endocycling cells, preventing activation of a paused RNA Pol II by p53-dependent or p53-independent pathways. Over-expression of the p53A isoform did not activate this paused RNA Pol II complex in endocycling cells, but over-expression of the p53B isoform with a longer transactivation domain did, suggesting that dampened p53B protein levels are crucial for apoptotic repression. We also find that the p53A protein isoform is ubiquitinated and degraded by the proteasome in endocycling cells. In mitotic cycling cells, p53A was the only isoform expressed to detectable levels, and its mRNA and protein levels increased after irradiation, but there was no evidence for an increase in protein stability. However, our data suggest that p53A protein stability is regulated in unirradiated cells, which likely ensures that apoptosis does not occur in the absence of stress. Without irradiation, both p53A protein and a paused RNA pol II were pre-bound to the promoters of pro-apoptotic genes, preparing mitotic cycling cells for a rapid apoptotic response to genotoxic stress. Together, our results define molecular mechanisms by which different cells in development modulate their apoptotic response, with broader significance for the survival of normal and cancer polyploid cells in mammals.
Author Summary
In order to maintain genome integrity, eukaryotic cells have evolved multiple ways to respond to DNA damage stress. One of the major cellular responses is apoptosis, during which the cell undergoes programmed cell death in order to prevent the propagation of the damaged genome to daughter cells. Although clinical observations and other studies have shown that tissues can differ in their apoptotic response, the molecular mechanisms underlying these differences are largely unknown. We have shown in our model system, Drosophila, that endocycling cells do not initiate cell death in response to DNA damage. The endocycle is a cell cycle variation that is widely found in nature and conserved from plant to animals. During the endocycle, cells duplicate their genomic DNA but do not enter mitosis to segregate chromosomes, resulting in a polyploid genome content. In this study, we investigate how the apoptotic response to DNA damage is repressed in endocycling cells. We find that the Drosophila ortholog of the human p53 tumor suppressor protein is expressed at very low levels in endocycling cells. Moreover, the downstream pro-apoptotic genes that are regulated by p53 are epigenetically silenced in endocycling cells. Our results provide important insights into tissue-specific apoptotic responses in development, with possible broader impact on understanding radiation therapy response and cancer of different tissues.
PMCID: PMC4161308  PMID: 25211335
17.  Increased expression of RRM2 by human papillomavirus E7 oncoprotein promotes angiogenesis in cervical cancer 
Wang, N | Zhan, T | Ke, T | Huang, X | Ke, D | Wang, Q | Li, H
British Journal of Cancer  2014;110(4):1034-1044.
The purpose of this study was to confirm that RRM2 as a novel target of HPVE7 involved in cervical cancer angiogenesis.
Gene expression was analysed by RT-qPCR, western blot and immunohistochemistry in cervical cancer tissue and cell lines. Luciferase reporter assay was used to determine the activities of various RRM2 promoters. Secreted VEGF was measured by ELISA. RRM2-mediated capillary tube formation induced by HPVE7 in cervical cancer cells were evaluated using human umbilical vein endothelial cells in vitro. ROS induced by RRM2 in cercal cancer cells was confirmed by flow cytometry. The growth of cervical cancer cell overexpression RRM2 was examined by nude mouse xenograft.
RRM2 as a novel downstream target for HPVE7 was upregulated by it at the transcriptional level through the E7-pRb interaction and binding of E2F to the RRM2 promoter region. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that the level of RRM2 positively correlated with the HPVE7 level in human cervical cancer. Functionally, overexpression of RRM2 enhanced the expression of HIF-1α and VEGF via activation of the ERK1/2 signalling pathway in cervical cancer cells, and significantly associated with increased microvessel densities in cervical cancer tissues. In vitro, HPVE7 stimulated RRM2-dependent capillary tube formation by HUVECs, and RRM2-enhanced angiogenesis was VEGF dependent. RRM2-activated ERK1/2 pathway was mediated through production of ROS. In the xenograft mouse model, overexpression of RRM2 in cervical cancer cells enhanced tumour growth as well as microvessel densities.
HPVE7 induces upregulation of RRM2, which then promotes cervical carcinogenesis via ROS-ERK1/2-HIF-1α-VEGF-induced angiogenesis. Thus, the inhibition of RRM2 activity may be a novel therapeutic strategy for human cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC3929894  PMID: 24423925
RRM2; HPVE7; ROS; angiogenesis; ERK1/2
18.  WIF1 is a frequent target for epigenetic silencing in squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(11):1625-1633.
Aberrant activation of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling axis is a prominent oncogenic mechanism in numerous cancers including cervical cancer. Wnt inhibitory factor-1 (WIF1) is a secreted protein that binds Wnt and antagonizes Wnt activity. While the WIF1 gene is characterized as a target for epigenetic silencing in some tumor types, WIF1 expression has not been examined in human cervical tissue and cervical cancer. Here, we show that WIF1 is unmethylated and its gene product is expressed in normal cervical epithelium and some cultured cervical tumor lines. In contrast, several cervical cancer lines contained dense CpG methylation within the WIF1 gene, and expression of both WIF1 transcript and protein was restored by culturing cells in the presence of the global DNA demethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine. Using single-molecule MAPit methylation footprinting, we observed differences in chromatin structure within the WIF1 promoter region between cell lines that express and those that do not express WIF1, consistent with transcriptional activity and repression, respectively. The WIF1 promoter was aberrantly methylated in ∼60% (10 of 17) high-grade highly undifferentiated squamous cell cervical tumors examined, whereas paired normal tissue showed significantly lower levels of CpG methylation. WIF1 protein was not detectable by immunohistochemistry in tumors with quantitatively high levels of WIF1 methylation. Of note, WIF1 protein was not detectable in two of the seven unmethylated cervical tumors examined, suggesting other mechanisms may contribute WIF1 repression. Our findings establish the WIF1 gene as a frequent target for epigenetic silencing in squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix.
PMCID: PMC3204350  PMID: 21873353
19.  Abrogation of the Postmitotic Checkpoint Contributes to Polyploidization in Human Papillomavirus E7-Expressing Cells ▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(6):2756-2764.
High-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV) are considered the major causative agents of cervical carcinoma. The transforming ability of HPV resides in the E6 and E7 oncogenes, yet the pathway to transformation is not well understood. Cells expressing the oncogene E7 from high-risk HPVs have a high incidence of polyploidy, which has been shown to occur as an early event in cervical carcinogenesis and predisposes the cells to aneuploidy. The mechanism through which E7 contributes to polyploidy is not known. It has been hypothesized that E7 induces polyploidy in response to mitotic stress by abrogating the mitotic spindle assembly checkpoint. It was also proposed that E7 may stimulate rereplication to induce polyploidy. We have tested these hypotheses by using human epithelial cells in which E7 expression induces a significant amount of polyploidy. We find that E7-expressing cells undergo normal mitoses with an intact spindle assembly checkpoint and that they are able to complete cytokinesis. Our results also exclude DNA rereplication as a major mechanism of polyploidization in E7-expressing cells upon microtubule disruption. Instead, we have shown that while normal cells arrest at the postmitotic checkpoint after adaptation to the spindle assembly checkpoint, E7-expressing cells replicate their DNA and propagate as polyploid cells. Thus, abrogation of the postmitotic checkpoint leads to polyploidy formation in E7-expressing human epithelial cells. Our results suggest that downregulation of pRb is important for E7 to induce polyploidy and abrogation of the postmitotic checkpoint.
PMCID: PMC2648292  PMID: 19129456
20.  Receptor and secreted targets of Wnt-1/β-catenin signalling in mouse mammary epithelial cells 
BMC Cancer  2005;5:3.
Deregulation of the Wnt/ β-catenin signal transduction pathway has been implicated in the pathogenesis of tumours in the mammary gland, colon and other tissues. Mutations in components of this pathway result in β-catenin stabilization and accumulation, and the aberrant modulation of β-catenin/TCF target genes. Such alterations in the cellular transcriptional profile are believed to underlie the pathogenesis of these cancers. We have sought to identify novel target genes of this pathway in mouse mammary epithelial cells.
Gene expression microarray analysis of mouse mammary epithelial cells inducibly expressing a constitutively active mutant of β-catenin was used to identify target genes of this pathway.
The differential expression in response to ΔNβ-catenin for five putative target genes, Autotaxin, Extracellular Matrix Protein 1 (Ecm1), CD14, Hypoxia-inducible gene 2 (Hig2) and Receptor Activity Modifying Protein 3 (RAMP3), was independently validated by northern blotting. Each of these genes encodes either a receptor or a secreted protein, modulation of which may underlie the interactions between Wnt/β-catenin tumour cells and between the tumour and its microenvironment. One of these genes, Hig2, previously shown to be induced by both hypoxia and glucose deprivation in human cervical carcinoma cells, was strongly repressed upon ΔNβ-catenin induction. The predicted N-terminus of Hig2 contains a putative signal peptide suggesting it might be secreted. Consistent with this, a Hig2-EGFP fusion protein was able to enter the secretory pathway and was detected in conditioned medium. Mutation of critical residues in the putative signal sequence abolished its secretion. The expression of human HIG2 was examined in a panel of human tumours and was found to be significantly downregulated in kidney tumours compared to normal adjacent tissue.
HIG2 represents a novel non-cell autonomous target of the Wnt pathway which is potentially involved in human cancer.
PMCID: PMC545969  PMID: 15642117
wnt; catenin; microarray; hypoxia; angiogenesis
21.  Endogenous Human Papillomavirus E6 and E7 Proteins Differentially Regulate Proliferation, Senescence, and Apoptosis in HeLa Cervical Carcinoma Cells 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(2):1551-1563.
Cervical cancer cells express high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 and E7 proteins, and repression of HPV gene expression causes the cells to cease proliferation and undergo senescence. However, it is not known whether both HPV proteins are required to maintain the proliferative state of cervical cancer cells, or whether mutations that accumulate during carcinogenesis eliminate the need for one or the other of them. To address these questions, we used the bovine papillomavirus E2 protein to repress the expression of either the E6 protein or the E7 protein encoded by integrated HPV18 DNA in HeLa cervical carcinoma cells. Repression of the E7 protein activated the Rb pathway but not the p53 pathway and triggered senescence, whereas repression of the E6 protein activated the p53 pathway but not the Rb pathway and triggered both senescence and apoptosis. Telomerase activity, cyclin-dependent kinase activity, and expression of c-myc were markedly inhibited by repression of either E6 or E7. These results demonstrate that continuous expression of both the E6 and the E7 protein is required for optimal proliferation of cervical carcinoma cells and that the two viral proteins exert distinct effects on cell survival and proliferation. Therefore, strategies that inhibit the expression or activity of either viral protein are likely to inhibit the growth of HPV-associated cancers.
PMCID: PMC140828  PMID: 12502868
22.  RBPJ, the Major Transcriptional Effector of Notch Signaling, Remains Associated with Chromatin throughout Mitosis, Suggesting a Role in Mitotic Bookmarking 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(3):e1004204.
Mechanisms that maintain transcriptional memory through cell division are important to maintain cell identity, and sequence-specific transcription factors that remain associated with mitotic chromatin are emerging as key players in transcriptional memory propagation. Here, we show that the major transcriptional effector of Notch signaling, RBPJ, is retained on mitotic chromatin, and that this mitotic chromatin association is mediated through the direct association of RBPJ with DNA. We further demonstrate that RBPJ binds directly to nucleosomal DNA in vitro, with a preference for sites close to the entry/exit position of the nucleosomal DNA. Genome-wide analysis in the murine embryonal-carcinoma cell line F9 revealed that roughly 60% of the sites occupied by RBPJ in asynchronous cells were also occupied in mitotic cells. Among them, we found that a fraction of RBPJ occupancy sites shifted between interphase and mitosis, suggesting that RBPJ can be retained on mitotic chromatin by sliding on DNA rather than disengaging from chromatin during mitotic chromatin condensation. We propose that RBPJ can function as a mitotic bookmark, marking genes for efficient transcriptional activation or repression upon mitotic exit. Strikingly, we found that sites of RBPJ occupancy were enriched for CTCF-binding motifs in addition to RBPJ-binding motifs, and that RBPJ and CTCF interact. Given that CTCF regulates transcription and bridges long-range chromatin interactions, our results raise the intriguing hypothesis that by collaborating with CTCF, RBPJ may participate in establishing chromatin domains and/or long-range chromatin interactions that could be propagated through cell division to maintain gene expression programs.
Author Summary
How does a cell remember what it should be after cell division? One mechanism that is beginning to emerge is the retention of a few key regulatory proteins on the highly condensed mitotic chromatin during cell division. These proteins are called mitotic bookmarks, as they are believed to offer critical information as to how genetic information should be read immediately after mitosis. We have found that a protein called RBPJ, which plays pivotal roles in regulating cell-fate choices, is retained on mitotic chromatin. RBPJ transmits to DNA signals elicited by the Notch pathway: a pathway that conveys information resulting from the communication between two adjacent cells. Unlike many other factors, we found that RBPJ can bind to nucleosomes, which are the basic unit of packaged DNA consisting of DNA wrapped around eight histone proteins. We also found that RBPJ interacts with and binds to DNA sites regulated by the CTCF protein, which plays important roles in regulating long-range DNA interactions. Together, our results suggest that RBPJ can function as a mitotic bookmarking factor, to help maintain genetic programs, higher-order structural information and consequently the memory of cell identity through cell division.
PMCID: PMC3945225  PMID: 24603501
23.  Environment-responsive transcription factors bind subtelomeric elements and regulate gene silencing 
Chromosome position analysis of ChIP-chip data revealed that several carbon source and stress-responsive yeast transcription factors conditionally bind subtelomeric X elements.Integration of several microarray gene expression data sets showed that, in this context, the factors conditionally control the boundaries and strength of subtelomeric silencing.Regulation of silencing by a fatty acid-responsive factor was found to be dependent on Sir2p and independent of Hda1p.These findings provide a critical link for establishing the mechanisms by which telomere biology is coordinated with other cellular processes including responses to environmental stimuli, aging and adaptation.
It is well established that environmental conditions modulate gene expression through local binding of a variety of conditionally active transcription factors, each responsive to specific environmental cues. However, another prevalent mechanism of gene regulation in eukaryotic cells is the long-range control of groups of genes by chromatin modifications or other position-dependent mechanisms. One such phenomenon, gene silencing, is an important and evolutionarily conserved mode of regulation that controls expression of subtelomeric genes. These genes are enriched for stress response and metabolic genes and their regulation is controlled by the spreading of silencing molecules from chromosome ends (telomeres) into subtelomeric regions. Levels of subtelomeric silencing have been linked to cellular lifespan, and study of the regulation of silencing is fundamental to our understanding of human aging. The spread of silencing in subtelomeric regions is discontinuous, and is controlled by various genomic elements that can either relay and enhance silencing from telomeres (proto-silencing) or create boundaries that protect some genomic regions from silencing. In yeast, every subtelomeric region contains an X element that proto-silences centromere-proximal genes, and also insulates telomere-proximal genes from silencing.
In this paper, we identify a regulatory mechanism to control X element-mediated proto-silencing and insulating activities in response to environmental cues. The mechanism was identified using chromosome position analysis of microarray-based chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP-chip) data for environment-responsive TFs and genome-wide gene expression data under the same conditions. The mechanism involves the conditional association of environment-responsive transcription factors to X elements. The binding at X elements results in regulation of proto-silencing of centromere-proximal genes, or insulation of telomere-proximal genes (depending on the factor) in response to environmental stimuli related to stress response and metabolism. One example is shown below (Figure 4B). Transcription factor, Oaf1p, conditionally binds X elements in the presence of fatty acids and enhances proto-silencing specifically under this condition. Oaf1p and several other factors implicated here are known to control adjacent genes at intrachromosomal positions, suggesting their dual functionality in both gene-specific transcriptional regulation, and long-range position-dependent mechanism. Investigation of this mechanism during the response to fatty acid exposure showed that conditional proto-silencing activity is dependent on Sir2p, a molecule known to be involved in subtelomeric silencing related to aging. This study reveals a path cells can use to coordinate subtelomeric silencing related to aging with cellular environment, and with the activities of other cellular processes.
Subtelomeric chromatin is subject to evolutionarily conserved complex epigenetic regulation and is implicated in numerous aspects of cellular function including formation of heterochromatin, regulation of stress response pathways and control of lifespan. Subtelomeric DNA is characterized by the presence of specific repeated segments that serve to propagate silencing or to protect chromosomal regions from spreading epigenetic control. In this study, analysis of genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation and expression data, suggests that several yeast transcription factors regulate subtelomeric silencing in response to various environmental stimuli through conditional association with proto-silencing regions called X elements. In this context, Oaf1p, Rox1p, Gzf1p and Phd1p control the propagation of silencing toward centromeres in response to stimuli affecting stress responses and metabolism, whereas others, including Adr1p, Yap5p and Msn4p, appear to influence boundaries of silencing, regulating telomere-proximal genes in Y′ elements. The factors implicated here are known to control adjacent genes at intrachromosomal positions, suggesting their dual functionality. This study reveals a path for the coordination of subtelomeric silencing with cellular environment, and with activities of other cellular processes.
PMCID: PMC3049408  PMID: 21206489
chromatin; proto-silencer; Sir2; subtelomeric silencing; X element
24.  Critical Roles for Non-pRb Targets of Human Papillomavirus Type 16 E7 in Cervical Carcinogenesis 
Cancer research  2006;66(19):9393-9400.
High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) encode two oncogenes, E6 and E7, expressed in nearly all cervical cancers. In vivo, HPV-16 E7 has been shown to induce multiple phenotypes in the context of transgenic mice, including cervical cancer. E7 is a multifunctional protein known best for its ability to inactivate the tumor suppressor pRb. To determine the importance of pRb inactivation by E7 in cervical cancer, we pursued studies with genetically engineered mice. E7 expression in estrogen-treated murine cervix induced dysplasia and invasive cancers as reported previously, but targeted Rb inactivation in cervical epithelium was not sufficient to induce any cervical dysplasia or neoplasia. Furthermore, E7 induced cervical cancer formation even when the E7-pRb interaction was disrupted by the use of a knock-in mouse carrying an E7-resistant mutant Rb allele. pRb inactivation was necessary but not sufficient for E7 to overcome differentiation-induced or DNA damage–induced cell cycle arrest, and expression patterns of the E2F-responsive genes Mcm7 and cyclin E indicate that other E2F regulators besides pRb are important targets of E7. Together, these data indicate that non-pRb targets of E7 play critical roles in cervical carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2858286  PMID: 17018593
25.  Human Papillomaviruses Activate the ATM DNA Damage Pathway for Viral Genome Amplification upon Differentiation 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(10):e1000605.
Human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the causative agents of cervical cancers. The infectious HPV life cycle is closely linked to the differentiation state of the host epithelia, with viral genome amplification, late gene expression and virion production restricted to suprabasal cells. The E6 and E7 proteins provide an environment conducive to DNA synthesis upon differentiation, but little is known concerning the mechanisms that regulate productive viral genome amplification. Using keratinocytes that stably maintain HPV-31 episomes, and chemical inhibitors, we demonstrate that viral proteins activate the ATM DNA damage response in differentiating cells, as indicated by phosphorylation of CHK2, BRCA1 and NBS1. This activation is necessary for viral genome amplification, as well as for formation of viral replication foci. In contrast, inhibition of ATM kinase activity in undifferentiated keratinocytes had no effect on the stable maintenance of viral genomes. Previous studies have shown that HPVs induce low levels of caspase 3/7 activation upon differentiation and that this is important for cleavage of the E1 replication protein and genome amplification. Our studies demonstrate that caspase cleavage is induced upon differentiation of HPV positive cells through the action of the DNA damage protein kinase CHK2, which may be activated as a result of E7 binding to the ATM kinase. These findings identify a major regulatory mechanism responsible for productive HPV replication in differentiating cells. Our results have potential implications for the development of anti-viral therapies to treat HPV infections.
Author Summary
Over 100 types of human papillomavirus (HPV) have been identified, and approximately one-third of these infect epithelial cells of the genital mucosa. A subset of these HPV types are the causative agents of cervical and other anogenital cancers. The infectious life cycle of HPV is dependent on differentiation of the host epithelial cell, with viral genome amplification and virion production restricted to differentiated suprabasal cells. While normal keratinocytes exit the cell cycle upon differentiation, HPV positive suprabasal cells are able to re-enter S-phase to mediate productive replication. The mechanisms regulating the activation of differentiation-dependent viral replication are largely unknown. In this study, we demonstrate that HPV induces an ATM-dependent DNA damage response that is essential for viral genome amplification in differentiating cells. In addition, we have found that ATM signaling to its downstream target CHK2 is critical for providing an environment that is conducive to HPV productive replication. Our findings identify an important regulatory mechanism by which HPV controls replication during the productive phase of the life cycle and may identify new targets for the development of therapeutics to treat HPV-induced infections.
PMCID: PMC2745661  PMID: 19798429

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