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Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2009 Feb;135(2):180-8. doi: 10.1001/archoto.2008.540.

Genomewide gene expression profiles of HPV-positive and HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer: potential implications for treatment choices.

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Program in Epidemiology, Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Mail Stop M5-C800, 1100 Fairview Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109-1024, USA.



To study the difference in gene expression between human papillomavirus (HPV)-positive and HPV-negative oral cavity and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).


We used Affymetrix U133 plus 2.0 arrays to examine gene expression profiles of OSCC and normal oral tissue. The HPV DNA was detected using polymerase chain reaction followed by the Roche LINEAR ARRAY HPV Genotyping Test, and the differentially expressed genes were analyzed to examine their potential biological roles using the Ingenuity Pathway Analysis Software, version 5.0.


Three medical centers affiliated with the University of Washington.


A total of 119 patients with primary OSCC and 35 patients without cancer, all of whom were treated at the setting institutions, provided tissues samples for the study.


Human papillomavirus DNA was found in 41 of 119 tumors (34.5%) and 2 of 35 normal tissue samples (5.7%); 39 of the 43 HPV specimens were HPV-16. A higher prevalence of HPV DNA was found in oropharyngeal cancer (23 of 31) than in oral cavity cancer (18 of 88). We found no significant difference in gene expression between HPV-positive and HPV-negative oral cavity cancer but found 446 probe sets (347 known genes) differentially expressed in HPV-positive oropharyngeal cancer than in HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer. The most prominent functions of these genes are DNA replication, DNA repair, and cell cycling. Some genes differentially expressed between HPV-positive and HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer (eg, TYMS, STMN1, CCND1, and RBBP4) are involved in chemotherapy or radiation sensitivity.


These results suggest that differences in the biology of HPV-positive and HPV-negative oropharyngeal cancer may have implications for the management of patients with these different tumors.

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