We investigated the role of wild-type p53 activity in modulating nucleotide excision repair after UV irradiation in normal and p53-deficient primary human fibroblasts created by expression of the human papillomavirus 16 E6 gene. Compared with parental cells, the E6-expressing fibroblasts were deficient in global genomic repair of both UV-induced cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers and 6-4 photoproducts but exhibited normal transcription-coupled repair. The E6-expressing cells were also more sensitive than their parental counterparts to UV irradiation and displayed similar levels of UV-induced apoptosis. These results suggest that disruption of wild-type p53 function by E6 expression results in selective loss of p53-dependent global genomic nucleotide excision repair, but not UV-induced apoptosis, leading to enhanced UV sensitivity.
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