Purpose: Cervical cancer is mainly caused by infections of high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV). Persistent expression of HR-HPV oncogenes E6 and E7 is implicated in malignant transformation. The aim was to provide proof-of-concept data to support use of zinc finger nucleases (ZFN) targeting HPV E7 to treat HPV-related cervical cancer.
Experimental Design: We designed and constructed ZFNs that could specifically recognize and cleave HPV16/18 E7 DNA. We tested the cleavage efficiency of selected ZFN16-E7-S2 and ZFN18-E7-S2 by using single-strand annealing (SSA) assay. Cell viability and colony formation assays were used to estimate the inhibition of cell growth that received treatments of ZFNs. Gene disruption of HPV E7 and downstream genes were examined by Western blotting. Cell apoptosis assay was used to test the specificity and efficiency of induction of HPV type-specific apoptosis. We also introduced xenograft formation assays to estimate the potential of inhibition of HPV-related disease.
Results: We found ZFN16-E7-S2 and ZFN18-E7-S2 disrupted HPV E7 oncogenes in HPV16/18–positive cervical cancer cells. Both ZFNs effectively led to inhibition of type-specific cervical cancer cell growth, and specifically induced apoptosis of corresponding HPV16- and HPV18-positive cervical cancer cell lines. ZFN16-E7-S2 and ZFN18-E7-S2 also repressed xenograft formation in vivo.
Conclusion: ZFNs targeting HPV16/18 E7 could effectively induce disruption of E7 oncogenes and lead to type-specific and efficient growth inhibition and apoptosis of HPV-positive cells. ZFNs targeting HPV16/18 E7 oncogenes could be used as novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of HPV-related cervical cancer. Clin Cancer Res; 1–9. ©2014 AACR.
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Clinical Cancer Research Online (http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received February 15, 2014.
- Revision received September 24, 2014.
- Accepted October 1, 2014.
- ©2014 American Association for Cancer Research.