It has long been established that group A human adenoviruses (HAdV-A12, -A18, and -A31) can cause tumors in newborn rodents, with tumorigenicity related to the presence of a unique spacer region located between conserved regions 2 and 3 within the HAdV-A12 early region 1A (E1A) protein. Group B adenoviruses are weakly oncogenic, whereas most of the remaining human adenoviruses are nononcogenic. In an attempt to understand better the relationship between the structure of the AdE1A spacer region and oncogenicity of HAdVs, the structures of synthetic peptides identical or very similar to the adenovirus 12 E1A spacer region were determined and found to be α-helical using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. This contrasts significantly with some previous suggestions that this region is unstructured. Using available predictive algorithms, the structures of spacer regions from other E1As were also examined, and the extent of the predicted α-helix was found to correlate reasonably well with the tumorigenicity of the respective virus. We suggest that this may represent an as-yet-unknown binding site for a partner protein required for tumorigenesis.
- HAdV-A12 E1A; nuclear magnetic resonance; oncogenesis; structural motif.