AIMS: Little information is available on the patterns of integration into the host chromosomal DNA of cervical carcinomas of human papillomavirus type 18 (HPV-18) DNA, which is associated with up to 20% of these carcinomas. Because integration of the viral genome may be extremely important in the pathogenesis of cervical carcinoma, the aim of this study was to investigate which regions of HPV-18 DNA are integrated into the cellular DNA of cervical carcinomas. METHODS: Southern analysis using four subgenomic probes covering the entire HPV-18 genome was used to map viral DNA integrated within cellular DNA. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was used to confirm the presence of specific regions of the viral genome. RESULTS: In all 11 carcinomas there was a single major HPV-18 DNA integrant, retaining approximately 4000 bp of HPV-18 DNA, indicating that approximately half of the virus genome had been lost upon integration. Southern analysis suggested strongly that the viral breakpoint was within the E1/E2 gene boundary, with concomitant loss of part or all of the E2 ORF (open reading frame), all of the E4, E5, and L2 ORFs and part of the L1 ORF. These data were supported by the PCR results, which confirmed that the region of integrated HPV-18 DNA from nucleotides 6558 to 162 was present in all the carcinoma samples studied. Assuming that no genomic rearrangements, deletions, or insertions had occurred, 4131 bp of integrated HPV-18 DNA could be accounted for in eight cervical carcinoma samples. The results of Southern analysis also suggested that integration of HPV-18 DNA may have occurred at a specific host chromosomal site. CONCLUSIONS: Broadly, the viral sequences retained upon HPV-18 integration resemble those found when HPV-16 is integrated. However, it appears that the HPV-18 E2 region is more consistently deleted.
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