E6 Protein Expressed by High-Risk HPV Activates Super-Enhancers of the EGFR and c-MET Oncogenes by Destabilizing the Histone

Authors: Chen, Xiaohua; Loo, Jun Xian; Shi, Xin; Xiong, Wenjun; Guo, Yong; Ke, Haiqiang; Yang, Mingkun; Jiang, Yanping; Xia, Siyu; Zhao, Min; Zhong, Shan; He, Chunjiang; Fu, Li; Li, Feng

The high-risk (HR) human papillomaviruses (HPV) are causative agents of anogenital tract dysplasia and cancers and a fraction of head and neck cancers. The HR HPV E6 oncoprotein possesses canonical oncogenic functions, such as p53 degradation and telomerase activation. It is also capable of stimulating expression of several oncogenes, but the molecular mechanism underlying these events is poorly understood. Here, we provide evidence that HPV16 E6 physically interacts with histone H3K4 demethylase KDM5C, resulting in its degradation in an E3 ligase E6AP- and proteasome-dependent manner. Moreover, we found that HPV16-positive cancer cell lines exhibited lower KDM5C protein levels than HPV-negative cancer cell lines. Restoration of KDM5C significantly suppressed the tumorigenicity of CaSki cells, an HPV16-positive cervical cancer cell line. Whole genome ChIP-seq and RNA-seq results revealed that CaSki cells contained super-enhancers in the proto-oncogenes EGFR and c-MET. Ectopic KDM5C dampened these super-enhancers and reduced the expression of proto-oncogenes. This effect was likely mediated by modulating H3K4me3/H3K4me1 dynamics and decreasing bidirectional enhancer RNA transcription. Depletion of KDM5C or HPV16 E6 expression activated these two super-enhancers. These results illuminate a pivotal relationship between the oncogenic E6 proteins expressed by HR HPV isotypes and epigenetic activation of super-enhancers in the genome that drive expression of key oncogenes like EGFR and c-MET. Significance: This study suggests a novel explanation for why infections with certain HPV isotypes are associated with elevated cancer risk by identifying an epigenetic mechanism through which E6 proteins expressed by those isotypes can drive expression of key oncogenes.

Volume: 78
Issue: 13
Pages: 1418 - 1430
Published Online: 2018
Full Text Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-2118