Recurrent infections with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are associated with human cervical cancers. All HPV-associated cancer tissues express the viral oncoproteins E6 and E7, which stimulate cell growth. The expression of E7 is crucial for both the initiation and the maintenance of HPV-associated cancer. Recent studies showed that the level of E7 in cancer cells is regulated by ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis through the 26S proteasome. In this study, we characterized the enzymes involved in the ubiquitin-dependent proteolysis of E7. We show that UbcH7, an E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme, is specifically involved in the ubiquitination of E7. Furthermore, we show that E7 interacts with the SCF (Skp-Cullin-F box) ubiquitin ligase complex containing Cullin 1 (Cul1) and Skp2 and can be ubiquitinated by the Cul1-containing ubiquitin ligase in vitro. Coimmunoprecipitation analyses revealed that E7 interacts with Skp2 and Cul1 in vivo. Finally, the half-life of E7 was found to be significantly longer in Skp2-/- mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEFs) than in wild-type MEFs. Taken together, these results suggest that the Cul1- and Skp2-containing ubiquitin ligase plays a role in the ubiquitination and proteolysis of E7. In HPV type 16-containing cervical carcinoma cell line Caski, E7 localizes to both the cytoplasm and the nucleus. Brief treatment of Caski cells with MG132 (a proteasome inhibitor) causes the accumulation of E7 in discrete nuclear bodies. These nuclear bodies are detergent insoluble and contain polyubiquitinated E7. We suggest that E7 relocates to specific nuclear bodies for proteolysis in HPV-containing epithelial cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science