RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) control mRNA processing, stability, trans-port, editing, and translation. We recently conducted transcriptome analyses comparing normal (i.e., healthy) cervical tissue samples with human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive cervical cancer tissue samples and identified 614 differentially expressed protein-coding transcripts which are enriched in cancer-related pathways and consist of 95 known RBPs. We verified the altered expression of 26 genes with a cohort of 72 cervical samples, including 24 normal cervical samples, 25 cervical intra-epithelial neoplasia grade 2 (CIN2) and CIN3 samples, and 23 cervical cancer tissue samples. LY6K (lymphocyte antigen 6 complex locus K), FAM83A (family member with sequence similarity 83), CELSR3, ASF1B, IQGAP3, SEMA3F, CLDN10, MSX1, CXCL5, ASRGL1, ELAVL2, GRB7, KHSRP, NOVA1, PTBP1, and RNASEH2A were identified as novel candidate genes associated with cervical lesion progression and carci-nogenesis. HPV16 or HPV18 infection was found to alter the expression of 8 RBP genes (CDKN2A, ELAVL2, GRB7, HSPB1, KHSRP, NOVA1, PTBP1, and RNASEH2A) in human vaginal and foreskin keratinocytes. Both viral E6 and E7 decreased NOVA1 ex-pression, but only E7 increased the expression of RNASEH2A in an E2F1-dependent manner. Proliferating cell nuclear antigen (PCNA) directs RNASEH2 activity with re-spect to DNA replication by removing the RNA primers to promote Okazaki frag-ment maturation, and two factors are closely associated with neoplasia progression. Therefore, we predict that the induction of expression of RNASEH2A via viral E7 and E2F1 may promote DNA replication and cancer cell proliferation. IMPORTANCE High-risk HPV infections lead to development of cervical cancer. This study identified the differential expression of 16 novel genes (LY6K, FAM83A, CELSR3, ASF1B, IQGAP3, SEMA3F, CLDN10, MSX1, CXCL5, ASRGL1, ELAVL2, GRB7, KHSRP, NOVA1, PTBP1, and RNASEH2A) in HPV-infected cervical tissue samples and keratinocytes. Eight of these genes (CDKN2A, ELAVL2, GRB7, HSPB1, KHSRP, NOVA1, PTBP1, and RNASEH2A) encode RNA-binding proteins. Further studies indicated that both HPV16 and HPV18 infections lead to the aberrant expression of selected RBP-encoding genes. We found that viral E6 and E7 decrease NOVA1 expression but that E7 increases RNASEH2A expression via E2F1. The altered expression of these genes may be utilized as biomarkers for high-risk (HR)-HPV carcinogenesis and progression.
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