Indexed on: 02 Nov '99Published on: 02 Nov '99Published in: Virology
The interaction between hosts and the viruses that infect them is a dynamic one, and a growing literature documents the fact that many viruses have developed mechanisms designed to avoid elimination by the host immune system. One of the immune strategies used by the host and targeted by virus proteins is apoptosis triggered by the cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Mouse fibroblast LM cells are spontaneously sensitive to TNF. When the wild-type E6 protein from the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV 16) was expressed in LM cells, the cells became resistant to TNF. This resistance was examined by several means, including cell morphology, the dose- and time-independent response to TNF in a cell death ELISA, trypan blue exclusion, and cell proliferation. The level of p53 did not rise in TNF-treated cells prior to apoptosis, suggesting a p53-independent mechanism. Significant, though not complete, resistance to TNF was also observed following transfection of a plasmid expressing a mutant E6 protein, which is unable to mediate rapid degradation of the p53 tumor suppressor. These results indicate that the HPV 16 E6 protein can protect LM cells from TNF-triggered apoptosis and likely does so by a mechanism other than mediation of p53 degradation.