The E5 protein of the human papillomavirus type 16 is a small protein found associated to membranes, mainly in the Golgi apparatus, and expressed in the early stages of viral infection. Its expression modifies the cell response towards growth factors and stress exposures, and also blocks the surface expression of MHC molecules. A global explanation for these multiple effects is hitherto not available. Here we present data showing that the expression of HPV16-E5 increases the amount of free cholesterol readily extractable from the plasma membrane, without altering the total cholesterol content. In addition, HPV16-E5 modifies the composition of the cell membranes, increasing the synthesis rate of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine, while diminishing that of phosphatidylglycerol. We propose that these changes in the lipid composition of the membrane are the central effect of HPV16-E5 on the cell. The multiple and apparently disconnected effects of HPV16-E5 on tyrosine-kinase receptors, induction of the apoptosis and impairment of MHC trafficking could follow the initial alteration on the membrane composition.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2005
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