Identification of a Novel Human Papillomavirus Type 16 E1 Gene Variant With Potentially Reduced Oncogenicity

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The human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 genome has been studied extensively, although no study has focused on the E1 gene that is implicated in viral DNA replication. After analyzing the E1 region of HPV 16 genomes in 429 cervical samples, 11.2% were found to contain a 63 nucleotides duplication in this region. Sequence analysis of the E6 and the E7 regions has shown that all samples containing this duplication were related to E6-G350 variant of the HPV 16 (Chi square test, P= 0.0012). A comparison of cervical lesion severity of the examinees having regular or variant E1 genes has shown that the variant group had a significantly (Fischer's exact test, P= 0.0401) lower percentage of high grade disease cases, suggesting that this particular duplication might reduce the oncogenic potential of HPV 16, and also might clarify the differences of E6-G350 variant oncogenicity observed in European populations. Albeit, a decreased incidence of high grade cervical lesions can be linked to the prevalence of multiple HPV infection, the additional decrease of those cases with the variant E1 gene versus those without (10.5% and 18.6%, respectively) can only be ascribed to the effect of this particular HPV variant. Further research is needed to clarify the biology of these HPV 16 E1 variants.

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