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K-State Today

August 27, 2020

Nick Wallace to present Division of Biology Seminar

Submitted by Division of Biology

Nick Wallace, assistant professor in the Division of Biology, will present "Human Papillomavirus Oncogenes Hinder DNA Repair" as part of the Division of Biology Seminar Series at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, via Zoom.

Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is a large family of DNA tumor viruses. The two genera of HPV most associated with disease are the alpha and beta genera (α- and β-HPVs). α-HPVs cause cancers throughout the anogenital tract as well as in the head and neck. These infections are extremely common with more than 14 million new infections each year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide, they kill someone every two minutes. β-HPVs are even more common, with the majority of adults showing signs of past or current infection. Unlike α-HPVs, β-HPVs are cutaneous viruses and less clearly tumorigenic. Despite these differences, both genera of HPV manipulate host DNA damage responses to facilitate their replication. We have used a combination of in vitro, in vivo and in silico approaches to characterize the consequences of HPV-driven changes in host DNA repair. A β-HPV protein (β-HPV E6) reduces repair signaling by destabilizing a histone acetyltransferase (p300) making UV-damage more mutagenic. This has been hypothesized to augment the oncogenic potential of UV and contribute to non-melanoma skin cancer development. α-HPVs express two oncogenes (α-HPV E6 and E7). α-HPV E7 induces a replication stress, while α-HPV E6 prevents cells from responding to that stress. This sensitizes cervical cancers (caused almost exclusively by α-HPV infections) to drugs that cause replication stress.

Wallace is currently a candidate for tenure and promotion. If you would like to visit with Wallace, please contact him at nwallac@k-state.edu