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Virology. 2005 Sep 15;340(1):95-104.

Worldwide genomic diversity of the human papillomaviruses-53, 56, and 66, a group of high-risk HPVs unrelated to HPV-16 and HPV-18.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Among more than 200 human papillomavirus (HPV) types presumed to exist, 18 "high-risk" HPV types are frequently found in anogenital cancer. The best studied types are HPV-16 and 18, which are only distantly related to one another and form two separate phylogenetic branches, each including six closely related types. HPV-30, 53, 56, and 66 form a third phylogenetic branch unrelated to HPV-16 and 18. Worldwide comparison of HPV-16 and 18 isolates revealed a distribution of variant genomes that correlated with the geographic origin and the ethnicity of the infected cohort and led to the concept of unique African, European, Asian, and Native American HPV-16 and 18 variants. Here, we address the question whether similar phylogenies are found for HPV-53, 56, and 66 by determining the sequence of the long control regions (LCR) of these HPVs in samples from Europe, Asia, and Africa, and from immigrant societies in North and South America. Phylogenetic trees calculated from point mutations and a few insertions/deletions affecting 2-4.2% of the nucleotide sequences were distinct for each of the three HPVs and divergent from HPV-16 and 18. In contrast to the "star-phylogenies" formed by HPV-16 and 18 variants, 44 HPV-53 isolates represented nine variants, which formed two deep dichotomic branches reminiscent of the beginning split into two new taxa, as recently observed for subtypes of HPV-44 and 68. A total of 66 HPV-56 isolates represented 17 variants, which formed three branches preferentially containing European, Asian, and African variants. Variants of a fourth branch, deeply separated from the other three, were characterized by a 25 bp insertion and created a dichotomy rather than star-like phylogeny. As it contained isolates from cohorts in all continents, it may have evolved before the spread of humans into all continents. 18 of 31 HPV-66 isolates represented the prototype clone, which was found in all parts of the world, while the remaining 13 clones formed 11 branches without any geographic association. Our findings confirm the notion of a quantitatively limited genomic diversity of each HPV type with some correlation to the geographic origin of the sample. In addition, we observed in some variants of these three HPV types mutations that affect the amino acid sequence of the E6 oncoproteins and the L1 capsid protein, supporting the possibility of immunogenic and oncogenic diversity between variants of any HPV type.

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