Equine sarcoids represent the most common skin tumours in equids worldwide, characterized by localized invasion, rare regression and high recurrence following surgical intervention. Bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV-1) and less commonly BPV-2 are now widely recognized as the causative agents of the disease. Fibroblasts isolated from sarcoids are highly invasive. Invasion is associated with a high level of viral gene expression and matrix metalloproteinase upregulation. However, it remains unclear to what extent BPV-1 proteins are involved in the transformation of equine cells. To address this question, the individual viral genes E5, E6 and E7 were overexpressed in normal equine fibroblasts (EqPalF cells) and in the immortal but not fully transformed sarcoid-derived EqS02a cell line. The proliferation and invasiveness of these cell lines were assessed. E5 and E6 were found to be responsible for the enhanced cell proliferation and induction of increased invasion in EqS02a cells, whilst E7 appeared to enhance cell anchorage independence. Knockdown of BPV-1 oncogene expression by small interfering RNA reversed the transformed phenotype of sarcoid fibroblasts. Together, these observations strongly suggest that BPV-1 proteins play indispensable roles in the transformation of equine fibroblasts. These data also suggest that BPV-1 proteins are potential drug targets for equine sarcoid therapy.


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siE7 treatment knocks down BPV-1 gene expression and partly reverses the transformed phenotype of sarcoid fibroblasts [PDF](47 KB)


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