Initiation of DNA synthesis by human papillomavirus E7 oncoproteins is resistant to p21-mediated inhibition of cyclin E-cdk2 activity

Margaret N. Ruesch, Laimonis A. Laimins*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


The E6 and E7 proteins from the high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) bind and inactivate the tumor suppressor proteins p53 and Rb, respectively. In HPV-positive cells, expression of E6 proteins from high-risk types results in increased turnover of p53, which leads to an abrogation of p21-mediated G1/S arrest in response to DNA-damaging agents. In contrast, keratinocytes which express E7 alone have increased levels of p53 but, interestingly, also fail to undergo a G1/S arrest. We investigated the mechanism by which E7 bypasses this p21 arrest by using both keratinocytes which stably express E7 as well as U20S cells which stably or transiently express E7. We observed that E7 does not affect the induction of p21 synthesis by p53. While glutathione S-transferase (GST)-E7 bound a low level of in vitro-translated p21, we were unable to detect E7 and p21 in the same complex by GST-E7 binding assays or immunoprecipitations from cell extracts. Furthermore, E7 did not prevent p21-mediated inhibition of cyclin E kinase activity. In keratinocytes expressing E7, increased levels of p53, p21, and cyclin E, as well as increased cyclin E kinase activity, were observed. To determine if this increase in cyclin E activity was necessary for E7's ability to overcome p21-mediated G1/S arrest, we examined U20S cells in which cyclin E levels are not increased in response to E7 expression. U20S cells which stably express E7 were found to initiate DNA synthesis in the presence of DNA- damaging agents despite the inhibition of cyclin E activity by p21. In transient assays, cotransfection of E7 or E2F-1 along with p21 into U20S cells rescued G1 arrest and resulted in S-phase entry, as measured by the ability to incorporate bromodeoxyuridine. These data indicate that E7 is able to overcome G1/S arrest without directly affecting p21 function and likely acts through deregulation of E2F activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5570-5578
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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