Molecular genetics of human cervical cancer: role of papillomavirus and the apoptitic cascade

T. Ledwaba, Z. Dlamini, S. Naicker, Kanti Bhoola

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    28 Citations (Scopus)


    Cervical cancer is rated the second most common malignant tumour globally, and is aetiologically linked to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. Here the cellular pathology under consideration of stem/progenitor cell carcinogenesis is reviewed. Of the three causative molecular mechanisms of cervical cancer, two are associated with HPV: firstly, the effect of the viral oncogenes, E6 and E7; and secondly, integration of the viral DNA into chromosomal regions of tumour phenotype. The third process involved is the repetitive loss of heterozygosity in some chromosomal regions. HPV can be classified into high- and low-risk types; the high-risk types encode two oncoproteins, E6 and E7, which interact with tumour suppressor proteins. The association results in the inactivation of tumour suppressor proteins and the abrogation of apoptosis. Apoptosis is referred to as programmed cell death, whereby a cell deliberately commits suicide, and thus regulates cell numbers during development and maintenance of cellular homeostasis. This review attempts to elucidate the role of apoptotic genes, and considers external factors that interact with HPV in the development and progression of cervical cancer. Therefore, an in-depth understanding of the apoptotic genes that control molecular mechanisms in cervical cancer are of critical importance. Useful targets for therapeutic strategies would be those that alter apoptotic pathways in a manner where the escape of HPV from surveillance by the host immune system is prevented. Such an approach directed at the apoptotic genes maybe useful in the treatment of cervical cancer.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)671-682
    JournalBiological Chemistry
    Issue number8
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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