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Virus Genes. 2005 Jan;30(1):31-5.

Cervical cancer-causing human papillomaviruses have an alternative initiation site for the L1 protein.

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  • 1CSL Limited, 45 Poplar Road, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

Erratum in

  • Virus Genes. 2006 Oct;33(2):265.


All known sequences of the DNA encoding the major cervical cancer-causing human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) L1 capsid protein contain initiation codons which would allow translation to begin at either nucleotide 5559 or 5637. However the formation of virus-like particles (VLPs) only occurs efficiently when the initiation codon at nucleotide 5637 is used for in vitro expression studies. This knowledge, in concert with the fact that virions have not been observed in HPV16-infected epithelium, raises the notion that the major L1 translation product in this HPV type may be largely confined to initiation at nucleotide 5559. Sequence analysis of various HPV types associated with particular clinical outcomes has revealed that L1 sequences of the major cervical cancer-associated viruses generally possess the ability to encode a longer translation product whilst the non-cancer-causing viruses do not. Equally intriguing, the upstream initiation codon is always separated by 78 nucleotides from the initiation codon that produces L1 protein which efficiently assembles into VLPs. We speculate that the longer L1 protein could play a role in the development of cervical carcinoma and that HPVs with the potential to cause cervical cancer may be identified by the presence of an in-frame ATG situated 78 nucleotides upstream.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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