The early region 4 orf4 protein of human adenovirus type 5 induces p53- independent cell death by apoptosis

Richard C. Marcellus, Josée N. Lavoie, Dominique Boivin, Gordon C. Shore, Gary Ketner, Philip E. Branton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies by our group showed that infection of human and rodent cells by human adenovirus type 5 (Ad5) results in the induction of p53- independent apoptosis and cell death that are dependent upon transactivation of early region 4 (E4). To identify which E4 products are involved, studies were conducted with p53-deficient human SAOS-2 cells infected with various Ad5 E4 mutants. An E4orf6-deficient mutant was defective in cell killing, whereas another that expressed only E4orf6 and E4orf4 killed like wild-type virus, suggesting that E4orf6 may be responsible for cytotoxicity; however, a mutant expressing only E4orf4 induced high levels of cell death, indicating that this E4 product may also be able to induce cytotoxicity. To define the E4 cell death-inducing functions more precisely, cDNAs encoding individual E4 products were introduced into cells by DNA transfection in the absence of other Ad5 proteins. In cotransfections with a cDNA encoding firefly luciferase, enzymatic activity was high in all cases except with E4orf4, where luciferase levels were less than 20% of those in controls. In addition, drug selection of several cell types following transfection with retroviral vector DNA encoding individual E4 products as well as puromycin resistance yielded a large number of cell colonies except when E4orf4 was expressed. These data demonstrated that E4orf4 is the only E4 product capable of independent cell killing. Cell death induced by E4orf4 was due to apoptosis, as evidenced by 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining of cell nuclei in E4orf4-expressing cells. Thus, although E4orf6 may play some role, these results suggested that E4orf4 may be the major E4 product responsible for induction of p53-independent apoptosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7144-7153
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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