Two distinct activities contribute to the oncogenic potential of the adenovirus type 5 E4orf6 protein

M Nevels, S Rubenwolf, T Spruss, H Wolf, T Dobner

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39 Citations (Scopus)


Previous studies have shown that the adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) E4orf6 gene product displays features of a viral oncoprotein. It initiates focal transformation of primary rat cells in cooperation with Ad5 E1 genes and confers multiple additional transformed properties on E1-expressing cells, including profound morphological alterations and dramatically accelerated tumor growth in nude mice. It has been reported that E4orf6 binds to p53 and, in the presence of the Ad5 E1B-55kDa protein, antagonizes p53 stability by targeting the tumor suppressor protein for active degradation. In the present study, we performed a comprehensive mutant analysis to assign transforming functions of E4orf6 to distinct regions within the viral polypeptide and to analyze a possible correlation between E4orf6-dependent p53 degradation and oncogenesis. Our results show that p53 destabilization maps to multiple regions within both amino- and carboxy-terminal parts of the viral protein and widely cosegregates with E4orf6-dependent acceleration of tumor growth, indicating that both effects are related. In contrast, promotion of focus formation and morphological transformation require only a carboxy-terminal segment of the E4 protein. Thus, these effects are completely independent of p53 stability, but may involve other interactions with the tumor suppressor. Our results demonstrate that at least two distinct activities contribute to the oncogenic potential of Ad5 E4orf6. Although genetically separable, both activities are largely mediated through a novel highly conserved, cysteine-rich motif and a recently described arginine-faced amphipathic alpha helix, which resides within a carboxy-terminal "oncodomain" of the viral protein.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5168-81
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2000


  • Adenovirus E1A Proteins
  • Adenovirus E1B Proteins
  • Adenovirus E4 Proteins
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Carcinogenicity Tests
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis
  • Oncogene Proteins
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Subcellular Fractions
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p53
  • Viral Plaque Assay


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