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Int J Cancer. 2007 May 15;120(10):2165-9.

Human papillomavirus-16 DNA methylation patterns support a causal association of the virus with oral squamous cell carcinomas.

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Facultad de Quimica, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México D.F., México.


Infection with human papillomavirus-16 (HPV-16) is the cause of most anogenital carcinomas. This virus is also detected in about 20% of all head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. While there is strong evidence for a causal etiological role in the case of tonsillar carcinomas, causal association with malignant lesions of the oral cavity is not yet conclusive. Our previous investigations of HPV-16 DNA methylation in anogenital sites have identified hypermethylation of the L1 gene and part of the long control region in many malignant lesions, but rarely in asymptomatic infections and low-grade precancerous lesions. Here, we report hypermethylation of this diagnostically important segment of the viral DNA in 10 out of 12 HPV-16 positive oral carcinomas from Mexican patients. These data indicate epigenetic changes of HPV-16 in oral carcinomas similar to those in anogenital carcinomas, suggesting carcinogenic processes under the influence of HPV-16 in most if not all of these oral malignant lesions.

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