Long-distance interaction of the integrated HPV fragment with MYC gene and 8q24.22 region upregulating the allele-specific MYC expression in HeLa cells

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Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is the most important risk factor for cervical cancer development. In HeLa cell line, the HPV viral genome is integrated at 8q24 in one allele of chromosome 8. It has been reported that the HPV fragment integrated in HeLa genome can cis-activate the expression of proto-oncogene MYC, which is located at 500 kb downstream of the integrated site. However, the underlying molecular mechanism of this regulation is unknown. A recent study reported that MYC was highly expressed exclusively from the HPV-integrated haplotype, and a long-range chromatin interaction between the integrated HPV fragment and MYC gene has been hypothesized. In this study, we provided the experimental evidences supporting this long-range chromatin interaction in HeLa cells by using Chromosome Conformation Capture (3C) method. We found that the integrated HPV fragment, MYC and 8q24.22 was close to each other and might form a trimer in spatial location. When knocking out the integrated HPV fragment or 8q24.22 region from chromosome 8 by CRISPR/Cas9 system, the expression of MYC reduced dramatically in HeLa cells. Interestingly, decreased expression was only observed in three from eight cell clones, when only one 8q24.22 allele was knocked out. Functionally, HPV knockout caused senescence-associated acidic β-gal activity in HeLa cells. These data indicate a long-distance interaction of the integrated HPV fragment with MYC gene and 8q24.22 region, providing an alternative mechanism relevant to the carcinogenicity of HPV integration.

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