The activation of transcription and of DNA replication are, in some cases, mediated by the same proteins. A prime example is the E2 protein of human papillomaviruses (HPVs), which binds ACCN6GGT sequences and activates heterologous promoters from multimerized binding sites. The E2 protein also has functions in replication, where it complexes with the virally encoded origin recognition protein, El. Much of the information on these activities is based on transient-transfection assays as well as biochemical analyses; however, their importance in the productive life cycle of oncogenic HPVs remains unclear. To determine the contributions of these E2 functions to the HPV life cycle, a genetic analysis was performed by using an organotypic tissue culture model. HPV type 31 (HPV31) genomes that contained mutations in the N terminus of E2 (amino acid 73) were constructed; these mutants retained replication activities but were transactivation defective. Following transfection of normal human keratinocytes, these mutant genomes were established as stable episomes and expressed early viral transcripts at levels similar to those of wild-type HPV31. Upon differentiation in organotypic raft cultures, the induction of late gene expression and amplification of vital DNA were detected in cell lines harboring mutant genomes. Interestingly, only a modest reduction in late gene expression was observed in the mutant lines. We conclude that the transactivation function of E2 is not essential for the viral life cycle of oncogenic HPVs, although it may act to moderately augment late expression. Our studies suggest that the primary positive role of E2 in the vital life cycle is as a replication factor.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science