Despite prophylactic vaccination campaigns, human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced cancers still represent a major medical issue for global population, thus specific anti-HPV drugs are needed. Since the ability of HPV E6 oncoprotein to promote p53 degradation is linked to tumor progression, E6 has been proposed as an ideal target for cancer treatment. Using the crystal structure of the E6/E6AP/p53 complex, we performed an in silico screening of small-molecule libraries against a highly conserved alpha-helix in the N-terminal domain of E6 involved in the E6-p53 interaction. We discovered a compound able to inhibit the E6-mediated degradation of p53 through disruption of E6-p53 binding both in vitro and in cells. This compound could restore p53 intracellular levels and transcriptional activity, reduce the viability and proliferation of HPV-positive cancer cells, and block 3D cervospheres formation. Mechanistic studies revealed that the compound anti-tumor activity mainly relies on induction of cell cycle arrest and senescence. Our data demonstrate that the disruption of the direct E6-p53 interaction can be obtained with a small-molecule compound leading to specific antitumoral activity in HPV-positive cancer cells and thus represents a new approach for anti-HPV drug development.

A novel small-molecule inhibitor of the human papillomavirus E6-p53 interaction that reactivates p53 function and blocks cancer cells growth

Spyrakis, Francesca;
2020-01-01

Abstract

Despite prophylactic vaccination campaigns, human papillomavirus (HPV)-induced cancers still represent a major medical issue for global population, thus specific anti-HPV drugs are needed. Since the ability of HPV E6 oncoprotein to promote p53 degradation is linked to tumor progression, E6 has been proposed as an ideal target for cancer treatment. Using the crystal structure of the E6/E6AP/p53 complex, we performed an in silico screening of small-molecule libraries against a highly conserved alpha-helix in the N-terminal domain of E6 involved in the E6-p53 interaction. We discovered a compound able to inhibit the E6-mediated degradation of p53 through disruption of E6-p53 binding both in vitro and in cells. This compound could restore p53 intracellular levels and transcriptional activity, reduce the viability and proliferation of HPV-positive cancer cells, and block 3D cervospheres formation. Mechanistic studies revealed that the compound anti-tumor activity mainly relies on induction of cell cycle arrest and senescence. Our data demonstrate that the disruption of the direct E6-p53 interaction can be obtained with a small-molecule compound leading to specific antitumoral activity in HPV-positive cancer cells and thus represents a new approach for anti-HPV drug development.
2020
470
115
125
E6 oncoprotein; Human papillomavirus; Protein-protein interaction; Small-molecule inhibitors; p53
Celegato, Marta; Messa, Lorenzo; Goracci, Laura; Mercorelli, Beatrice; Bertagnin, Chiara; Spyrakis, Francesca; Suarez, Irina; Cousido-Siah, Alexandra; Travé, Gilles; Banks, Lawrence; Cruciani, Gabriele; Palù, Giorgio; Loregian, Arianna
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1720798
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