Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16), a causative agent of cervical cancers, encodes the E6 and E7 oncogenes, whose simultaneous expression is pivotal for malignant transformation and maintenance of malignant phenotypes. In the hope of developing a gene-specific therapy for HPV-related cancer, we examined the effects of E6 short-interfering RNA (siRNA) on the expression of these oncogenes and on the cell growth of HPV16-related cervical cancer cells. Using SiHa cervical cancer cells, we demonstrated that E6 siRNA decreased the levels of mRNA encoding E6 as well as that encoding E7 protein and also induced nuclear accumulation of p53, the most important target of E6. E6 siRNA suppressed monolayer and anchorage-independent growth of SiHa cells, which was associated with p21CIP1/WAF1 induction and hypophosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein. Further, SiHa cells treated with E6 siRNA formed tumors in NOD/SCID mice that were significantly smaller than in those treated with control siRNA. Our results show HPV E6 siRNA as a candidate for gene-specific therapy for HPV-related cervical cancer.
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