Human c-myb is normally involved in the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. Until now, only a few reports have described elevated c-myb gene expression in epithelial tissue, suggesting that under certain circumstances, c-Myb protein might play a role during the process of malignant transformation of epithelial cells. To investigate a possible role of c-myb during papillomavirus-associated carcinogenesis, we investigated the c-myb mRNA expression in human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated tumors and tumor cell lines. Seven of nine cervical carcinomas and two of three carcinoma cell lines exhibited elevated c-myb transcriptional activity. In contrast to malignant cervical neoplasias, only 3 of 15 condylomata acuminata expressed a sparse signal for c-myb mRNA. Since the c-Myb protein has been described as a potent transcriptional regulator, we investigated the transactivating properties of c-Myb on the HPV-16 promoter/enhancer. Cotransfection of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase-reporter plasmid containing the HPV-16 enhancer/promoter element with a full-length c-Myb-expressing plasmid resulted in a significant induction (4.3-fold) of the HPV-16 promoter, whereas expression of a carboxy-terminally deleted c-Myb protein led to no effects. Gel shift experiments showed a specific binding of recombinant c-Myb protein on the HPV-16 P97 enhancer. These data indicate that elevated c-myb expression occurs with HPV-associated cell transformation. Since c-Myb has been shown to stimulate the HPV-derived oncoprotein expression via transcriptional activation, it may play a role in the process of HPV-associated cervical carcinogenesis.

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Supported by Grants Nü 48/2-1 and Scha 422/2-1 from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

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