Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Physiology and Biophysics

First Advisor

Iain Morgan

Second Advisor

Larisa Litovchick

Third Advisor

Carlos Escalante


According to the American Cancer Society, it has been estimated that in 2019 alone, there will be approximately 53,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancers. Oropharyngeal cancers are the largest subset of head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCCs), which are the sixth most common cancer across worldwide populations. They, along with other HNSCCs, fall under a category of cancers known as Human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated cancers, and it has been found that upwards of 70% of these cancers can be attributed to high-risk HPV infections.

Specifically, the high-risk HPV gene, E7, plays a key role in relieving cell cycle repression by disrupting the DREAM complex via competitive binding with p130, driving the cell cycle and cell proliferation. In order to combat this interaction, a LIN52-S20C mutation was developed, in hopes of reducing E7 binding of p130 and stabilizing the DREAM complex. We utilized human cervical cell lines, immortalized keratinocytes, and mouse fibroblasts, all of which contained the HPV16 genome, as models to observe the effects of the LIN52-S20C mutation on HPV-mediated hijacking of the cell cycle. Not only were we able to replicate the increased proliferation and upregulated DREAM gene expression in infected cells, but we were also able to observe some reversal of these effects in many of our cell models through the expression of the LIN52-S20C variant. The findings of these studies have been promising and provide a basis for future works, and we hope that the effects of the LIN52-S20C mutation can be translated into studies in in vivo models.


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