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Oncogene. 2008 Mar 6;27(11):1610-7. Epub 2007 Sep 10.

Integration of the HPV16 genome does not invariably result in high levels of viral oncogene transcripts.

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Frauenklinik der Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena, Germany.


Virus integration into the host genome is a characteristic step during cervical carcinogenesis. Experimental data provide evidence that integration could result in increased levels of oncogene (E6/E7) transcripts. This is the first study in which the level of viral transcripts is correlated to the physical state of the viral genome in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) and cervical carcinomas (CxCa). Using the APOT-assay integrate-derived transcripts only were detected in 3/28 (11%) CIN and in 28/55 (51%) carcinomas, respectively. The remaining biopsies contained either episome-derived transcripts only or both mRNA species. SybrGreen real time reverse transcriptase-PCR assays were used to quantify viral gene expression for (i) all transcripts initiated from p97, (ii) full-length E6, (iii) E6*I and (iv) E5 transcripts. E6/E7 transcript levels showed a broad distribution but similar median values irrespective of histopathological grading and physical state of the viral genome. Biopsies with integrate-derived transcripts only generally lacked E5-specific mRNA. Our data do not support the hypothesis that HPV integration invariably results in high levels of oncogene transcripts. Instead, constitutive expression of oncogene transcripts rather than the level of expression appears to be decisive for transformation and the maintenance of the malignant phenotype.

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