The inactivation of p53 and p105RB by viral proteins or by mutations plays a key role in the oncogenesis of cervical carcinoma. The E6 and E7 proteins of HPV type 16 can bind to p53 and p105RB tumor suppressor gene products, respectively. In the present study, we tested a simple in vivo model that could explain the interactions between HPV E6 oncoprotein and p53 tumor suppressor protein. Our results showed that the life span of normal cervical epithelial cells was increased up to 4.5 times when transfected with expression vector containing E6/E7 ORF of HPV type 16. However, these cells did not divide after second crisis. Therefore, we employed an established human epidermal keratinocytes, RHEK-1. When transfected with an expression vector containing E6 ORF of HPV type 16, RHEK-1 cells showed anchorage independent growth character. When RHEK-E6 cells were transfected with wild type p53 expression vector, the growth rate of the RHEK-E6 cells was diminished. After 48 hours of transfection, many cells showed apoptotic signal but no more apoptotic signal was observed thereafter. These results suggested that the overexpression of the wild type p53 could overcome the dysfunction of the p53 on the cell cycle regulation imposed by E6 protein although not being of physiological condition.
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