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Abstract

The viral factor E7 plays a key role in the well-established association between “high-risk” Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infection and the development of epithelial malignant tumors, as uterine cervix and ano-genital cancer. To delve into the molecular mechanisms of HPV-mediated cell transformation, we searched for novel potential cellular targets of the HPV-16 E7 oncoprotein, by means of the yeast two-hybrid technique, identifying a protein–protein interaction between HPV-16 E7 and the pro-apoptotic cellular factor Siva-1. Using co-precipitation assays and the “PepSets” technique, we confirmed this physical interaction and mapped accurately, for both proteins, the amino acid residues involved. Additionally, we found that HPV-16 E7 competed in vitro with the binding of the Bcl-XL anti-apoptotic factor to Siva-1, an interaction that has a major inference in UV radiation-induced apoptosis. In HaCaT immortalized human keratinocytes, forced HPV-16 E7 expression by retroviral infection caused Siva-1 transcript up-regulation, detected by cDNA macroarray hybridization and real-time quantitative PCR, paralleled by an increased amount of protein. Confirming the anti-apoptotic role of HPV-16 E7 in the HaCaT cellular model, evaluated by nuclear morphology, we also found that Siva-1 expression produced a significant increase of the apoptotic rate in UV radiation-exposed HaCaT cells, and that this effect resulted explicitly counteracted by HPV-16 E7. Being apoptosis a key physiological process for the elimination of irreversibly injured cells, the anti-apoptotic role of HPV-16 E7, performed at least by its interference with Siva-1, can be considered an additional mechanism for the survival of damaged, potentially transforming, cell clones. J. Cell. Physiol. 212: 118–125, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.