Author(s): Herber R, Liem A, Pitot H, Lambert PF
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Abstract The human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) genome is commonly present in human cervical carcinoma, in which a subset of the viral genes, E6 and E7, are expressed. The HPV-16 E6 and E7 gene products can associated with and inactivate the tumor suppressor proteins p53 and Rb (the retinoblastoma susceptibility gene product), and in tissue culture cells, these viral genes display oncogenic properties. These findings have led to the hypothesis that E6 and E7 contribute to cervical carcinogenesis. This hypothesis has recently been tested by using transgenic mice as an animal model. HPV-16 E6 and E7 together were found to induce cancers in multiple tissues in which they were expressed, including squamous cell carcinoma, the cancer type most commonly associated with HPV-16 in the human cervix. We have extended these studies to investigate the in vivo activities of HPV-16 E7 when expressed in squamous epithelia of transgenic mice. Grossly, E7 transgenic mice had multiple phenotypes, including wrinkled skin that was apparent prior to the appearance of hair on neonates, thickened ears, and loss of hair in adults. In lines of mice expressing higher levels of E7, we observed stunted growth and mortality at an early age, potentially caused by an incapacity to feed. Histological analysis demonstrated that E7 causes epidermal hyperplasia in multiple transgenic lineages with high penetrance. This epithelial hyperplasia was characterized by an expansion of the proliferating compartment and an expansion of the keratin 10-positive layer of cells and was associated with hyperkeratosis. Hyperplasia was found at multiple sites in the animals in addition to the skin, including the mouth palate, esophagus, forestomach, and exocervix. In multiple transgenic lineages, adult animals developed skin tumors late in life with low penetrance. These tumors arose from the squamous epithelia and from sebaceous glands and were characterized histologically to be highly differentiated, locally invasive, and aggressive in their growth properties. On the basis of these phenotypes, we conclude that HPV-16 E7 can alter epithelial cell growth parameters sufficiently to potentiate tumorigenesis in mice.
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Journal of Molecular and Genetic Medicine