Targeting HPV16 E6-p300 interaction reactivates p53 and inhibits the tumorigenicity of HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma

X. Xie, L. Piao, B. N. Bullock, A. Smith, T. Su, M. Zhang, T. N. Teknos, P. S. Arora, Q. Pan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The incidence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has rapidly increased over the past 30 years, prompting the suggestion that an epidemic maybe on the horizon. Therefore, there is a clinical need to develop alternate therapeutic strategies to manage the growing number of HPV-positive HNSCC patients. High-risk HPV E6 inactivates p53 through two distinct mechanisms; association with E6AP to degrade p53 and association with p300 to block p300-mediated p53 acetylation and activation. In this study, we determined if targeting the E6-p300 interaction is an effective approach to reactivate p53 in HPV-positive HNSCC. Ectopic expression of the CH1 domain of p300 in HPV-positive HNSCC blocks the association between E6 and p300, increases total and acetylated p53 levels and enhances p53 transcriptional activity. Moreover, expression of p21, miR-34a and miR-200c are increased, demonstrating functional p53 reactivation. CH1 overexpression in HPV-positive HNSCC has a global anticancer effect resulting in a decrease in cell proliferation and clonogenic survival and an increase in apoptosis. The in vivo tumor-initiating ability of HPV-positive HNSCC is severely compromised with CH1 overexpression, in part through a reduction in the cancer-initiating cell population. A novel small-molecule CH1 inhibitor, CH1iB, reactivates p53 and potentiates the anticancer activity of cis-platinum in HPV-positive HNSCC cells. Our work shows that CH1-domain inhibitors represent a novel class of p53-reactivation therapeutics for managing HPV-positive HNSCC patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1037-1046
Number of pages10
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 20 2014


  • Anticancer therapeutics
  • Head and neck cancer
  • Human papillomavirus
  • p300
  • p53

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Cancer Research


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