Antisense-mediated inhibition of papillomavirus type-18 in human squamous cell carcinoma

Cherrilee Steele, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Numerous co-factors, genetic, environmental and physical, play an important role in development and prognosis of cancer. Each year in the USA, more than 31,000 cases of oral and 13,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed. Substantial epidemiological data supports a high correlation between development of these cancers and the presence of specific types of human papillomaviruses (HPV). Molecular biological studies show that not only are several of the viral genes necessary and sufficient to cause transformation but they also function synergistically with other co-factors. Evidence suggests that prevention of infection or inhibition of viral gene expression may alter the course of malignant transition. The main objective of this project was to test the hypothesis that some human carcinoma cells, containing HPV, behave in malignant manner because the viral genes function in the maintenance of some aspect of the transformed phenotype. The specific aims were (1) to select oral and cervical cancer cell lines which were HPV-negative or which harbored transcriptionally active HPV-18, (2) to construct and determine the effects of recombinant sense or antisense expressing vectors, (3) to test the effects of synthetic antisense oligodeoxynucleotides on the transformed behavior of these cells. To screen cells, we performed Southern and Northern analysis and polymerase chain reactions. When antisense-expressing vectors were used, cells harboring low numbers of HPV-18 where unable to survive transfection but they were readily transfected with all other constructs. Rare antisense transfectants obtained from HPV-positive cells showed significantly altered characteristics including malignant potential in nude mice. The HPV-negative cells showed no differences in transfection efficiencies or growth characteristics with any construct. In addition, treatment of the HPV-positive cells with antisense, but not random oligodeoxynucleotides, resulted in decreased cell proliferation and even cell death. These effects were dose-dependent, synergistic and HPV-specific. These results suggest that expression of viral genes play an important role in the maintenance of the transformed phenotype which implies that inhibition of expression, by antisense molecules, may be therapeutic in HPV-induced tumors.

Subject Area

Molecular biology|Surgery

Recommended Citation

Steele, Cherrilee, "Antisense-mediated inhibition of papillomavirus type-18 in human squamous cell carcinoma" (1992). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9312172.