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Keywords:

  • HPV;
  • squamous cell cancer;
  • tonsil epithelium;
  • PDZ motif;
  • immortalization;
  • invasion

Abstract

Background

Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) has been associated with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) in up to 60% of sampled specimens.

Methods

To understand better the viral genes required to transform human tonsil epithelial cells (HTEC), we isolated HTEC's and transduced them with retroviral vectors containing HPV16 E6 and E7.

Results

Immortalization and anchorage-independent growth of HTEC's only occurred with expression of E6 and E7 with resultant degradation of p53. However, cells expressing E6 lacking the PSD-95/disc-large/Zo-1 (PDZ) motif did not immortalize or grow anchorage independent. Telomerase activity and degradation of p53 were similar for wild-type and mutant E6.

Conclusion

The mechanism of oncogenic transformation by E6 in HTEC's is dependent on the PDZ binding motif. Identification of pathways affected by the interaction of E6 and PDZ domain containing proteins will further our understanding of how HPV causes HNSCC and will provide potential therapeutic targets. © 2007 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Head Neck, 2008