Journal of virology

The full-length isoform of human papillomavirus 16 E6 and its splice variant E6* bind to different sites on the procaspase 8 death effector domain.

PMID 19906919


Human papillomavirus 16 is a causative agent of most cases of cervical cancer and has also been implicated in the development of some head and neck cancers. The early viral E6 gene codes for two alternatively spliced isoforms, E6(large) and E6*. We have previously demonstrated the differential effects of E6(large) and E6* binding on the expression and stability of procaspase 8, a key mediator of the apoptotic pathway. Additionally, we have reported that E6 binds to the FADD death effector domain (DED) at a novel E6 binding domain. Sequence similarities between the FADD and procaspase 8 DEDs suggested a specific region for E6(large)/procaspase 8 binding, which was subsequently confirmed by mutational analysis as well as by the ability of peptides capable of blocking E6/FADD binding to also block E6(large)/caspase 8 binding. However, the binding of the smaller isoform, E6*, to procaspase 8 occurs at a different region, as deletion and point mutations that disrupt E6(large)/caspase 8 DED binding do not disrupt E6*/caspase 8 DED binding. In addition, peptide inhibitors that can block E6(large)/procaspase 8 binding do not affect the binding of E6* to procaspase 8. These results demonstrate that the residues that mediate E6*/procaspase 8 DED binding localize to a different region on the protein and employ a separate binding motif. This provides a molecular explanation for our initial findings that the two E6 isoforms affect procaspase 8 stability in an opposing manner.