Research Papers:

CUL2 overexpression driven by CUL2/E2F1/miR-424 regulatory loop promotes HPV16 E7 induced cervical carcinogenesis

Junfen Xu _, Yifeng Fang, Xinyu Wang, Fenfen Wang, Qifang Tian, Ying Li, Xing Xie, Xiaodong Cheng and Weiguo Lu

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:31520-31533. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.9127

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Junfen Xu1,*, Yifeng Fang2,*, Xinyu Wang1, Fenfen Wang1, Qifang Tian1, Ying Li1, Xing Xie1, Xiaodong Cheng1, Weiguo Lu1

1Department of Gynecologic Oncology, Women’s Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310006, China

2The Second Department of General Surgery, Sir Run Run Shaw Hospital, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310016, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Weiguo Lu, email: [email protected]

Xiaodong Cheng, email: [email protected]

Keywords: CUL2, HPV16 E7, miR-424, E2F1, cervical cancer

Received: October 03, 2015    Accepted: April 11, 2016    Published: May 2, 2016


It has been shown that HPV16 E7, but not other genotypes, can bind to scaffold protein CUL2 during inducing cervical carcinogenesis, but the expression level, associated regulating mechanism, and potential carcinogenicity of CUL2 itself is still unknown as yet. Here, we demonstrated that CUL2 was specifically overexpressed in HPV16 positive cervical cancer cells and tissues, and CUL2 expression was significantly increased along with the cervical lesion progression and positively correlated with HPV16 E7. CUL2 knockdown slowed the growth of xenograft tumors in mouse models. Importantly, CUL2 specifically bound to HPV16 E7, but not HPV18 E7. Moreover, CUL2 acted as a direct target of miR-424, and reversely suppressed miR-424; E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1) suppressed miR-424 expression; CUL2 bound to E2F1 and promoted E2F1 expression. Our results indicate the existence of a regulatory loop among CUL2, E2F1, and miR-424 in HPV16 positive cervical cancer cells. Our results suggest that E7 recruited CUL2, driven by CUL2/E2F1/miR-424 regulatory loop, is overexpressed and accelerates HPV16-induced cervical carcinogenesis. Our findings may serve as one of the explanations for a clinical phenomenon that HPV16 possesses the strongest cervical carcinogenicity among high-risk HPV genotypes.

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