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Cervical cancer is the second most common form of death by cancer in women worldwide and has special attention for the development of new treatment strategies. Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) persistent infection is the main etiological agent of this neoplasia, and the main cellular transformation mechanism is by disruption of p53 and pRb function by interaction with HPV E6 and E7 oncoproteins. This generates alterations in cellular differentiation and cellular death inhibition. Thus, HPV E6 and E7 oncogenes represent suitable targets for the development of gene therapy strategies against cervical cancer. An attractive technology platform is developing for post-transcriptional selective silencing of gene expression, using small interference RNA. Therefore, in the present study, we used SiHa cells (HPV16+) transiently transfected with specific siRNA expression plasmids for HPV16 E6 and E7 oncogenes. In this model we detected repression of E6 and E7 oncogene and oncoprotein expression, an increase in p53 and hypophosphorylated pRb isoform protein expression, and autophagy and apoptosis morphology features. These findings suggest that selective silencing of HPV16 E6 and E7 oncogenes by siRNAs, has significant biological effects on the survival of human cancer cells and is a potential gene therapy strategy against cervical cancer.
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