Research Article: The HPV16 E6 Oncoprotein Causes Prolonged Receptor Protein Tyrosine Kinase Signaling and Enhances Internalization of Phosphorylated Receptor Species

Date Published: March 14, 2013

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Jennifer M. Spangle, Karl Munger, Ann Roman.


The high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) E6 proteins are consistently expressed in HPV-associated lesions and cancers. HPV16 E6 sustains the activity of the mTORC1 and mTORC2 signaling cascades under conditions of growth factor deprivation. Here we report that HPV16 E6 activated mTORC1 by enhanced signaling through receptor protein tyrosine kinases, including epidermal growth factor receptor and insulin receptor and insulin-like growth factor receptors. This is evidenced by sustained signaling through these receptors for several hours after growth factor withdrawal. HPV16 E6 increased the internalization of activated receptor species, and the signaling adaptor protein GRB2 was shown to be critical for HPV16 E6 mediated enhanced EGFR internalization and mTORC1 activation. As a consequence of receptor protein kinase mediated mTORC1 activation, HPV16 E6 expression increased cellular migration of primary human epithelial cells. This study identifies a previously unappreciated mechanism by which HPV E6 proteins perturb host-signaling pathways presumably to sustain protein synthesis during the viral life cycle that may also contribute to cellular transforming activities of high-risk HPV E6 proteins.

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Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small viruses with double stranded DNA genomes that infect squamous epithelial tissue. Approximately 200 HPV types have been identified and categorized based on the type of host epithelial tissue they infect. A subset of HPVs infects the mucosal epithelium, and high-risk mucosal HPVs cause lesions that can undergo malignant progression. High-risk HPVs are the causative agents for nearly 100% of cervical cancers.

We previously presented evidence that HPV16 E6 causes mTORC1 activation and increases cap dependent translation through PDK1 and mTORC2 dependent mechanisms [16]. While the mechanism of HPV16 E6 induced mTORC2 activation remains unknown, we focused on investigating signal transduction pathway that results in enhanced PDK1 activity in HPV16 E6 expressing HFKs. PDK1 phosphorylation is a result of increased RPTK and PI3K signaling, which is regulated by the activity of protein and lipid phosphatases. We evaluated the total protein levels of PTEN and several other phosphatases that act in this pathway and found no change in total protein levels in HPV16 E6 expressing HFKs in comparison to control cells under normal growth conditions or nutrient deprived conditions (Figure S3A, B). Since PTEN activity is regulated by subcellular localization [33], [34], we performed immunofluorescence analyses. There was no evidence for changes in PTEN subcellular localization in HPV16 E6 expressing HFKs as compared to control HFKs (Figure S3C). HPV16 E6 was previously shown to associate with the PTPN3/PTPH1 and PTPN13 tyrosine phosphatases and target them for proteasome mediated degradation [5], [10]. We did not detect an association of HPV16 E6 with PTPN3 or PTPN13, and therefore did not address whether and/or how these associations may contribute to HPV16 E6 mediated RPTK activation.




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