Short half-life of HPV16 E6 and E7 mRNAs sensitizes HPV16-positive tonsillar cancer cell line HN26 to DNA-damaging drugs

Chengjun Wu, Kersti Nilsson, Yunji Zheng, Camilla Ekenstierna, Natsuki Sugiyama, Ola Forslund, Naoko Kajitani, Haoran Yu, Johan Wennerberg, Lars Ekblad, Stefan Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Here we show that treatment of the HPV16-positive tonsillar cancer cell line HN26 with DNA alkylating cancer drug melphalan-induced p53 and activated apoptosis. Melphalan reduced the levels of RNA polymerase II and cellular transcription factor Sp1 that were associated with HPV16 DNA. The resulting inhibition of transcription caused a rapid loss of the HPV16 early mRNAs encoding E6 and E7 as a result of their inherent instability. As a consequence of HPV16 E6 and E7 down-regulation, the DNA damage inflicted on the cells by melphalan caused induction of p53 and activation of apoptosis in the HN26 cells. The BARD1-negative phenotype of the HN26 cells may have contributed to the failure to repair DNA damage caused by melphalan, as well as to the efficient apoptosis induction. Finally, nude mice carrying the HPV16 positive tonsillar cancer cells responded better to melphalan than to cisplatin, the chemotherapeutic drug of choice for tonsillar cancer. We concluded that the short half-life of the HPV16 E6 and E7 mRNAs renders HPV16-driven tonsillar cancer cells particularly sensitive to DNA damaging agents such as melphalan since melphalan both inhibits transcription and causes DNA damage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-310
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Volume144
Issue number2
Early online date2018 Oct 18
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology

Free keywords

  • apoptosis
  • melphalan
  • p53
  • papillomavirus
  • tonsillar cancer

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