Numerous epidemiological studies have implicated cigarette smoking as a cofactor in the progression to cervical cancer. Tobacco-associated hydrocarbons have been found in cervical mucus, suggesting a possible interaction with human papillomavirus (HPV)-infected cells. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon benzo-[a]pyrene (BaP) is a major component of cigarette smoke condensate that has received significant attention due to its ability to induce carcinogenesis. We have previously demonstrated by conventional methods for determining viral titer that high concentrations of BaP increase HPV31b titers within the context of organotypic raft cultures compared with the level for vehicle controls. However, a definitive mechanism for explaining this increase in viral titer was lacking. Here, we show that BaP treatment activates the Ras-Raf-Mek1/2-Erk1/2 signaling pathway. The importance of Erk1/2 pathway activation to the BaP-mediated increase in viral titer was determined by Erk pathway inhibition with multiple Erk1/2 pathway inhibitors. Finally, BaP treatment activated p90RSK and its downstream target CDK1. These data indicate that the Erk1/2 signaling pathway plays an important role in mediating the response to BaP treatment that ultimately leads to increased viral titers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science