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BMC Med Genomics. 2009 Jun 1;2:32. doi: 10.1186/1755-8794-2-32.

Genomic profiling identifies common HPV-associated chromosomal alterations in squamous cell carcinomas of cervix and head and neck.

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Department of Pathology, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.



It is well known that a persistent infection with high-risk human papillomavirus (hrHPV) is causally involved in the development of squamous cell carcinomas of the uterine cervix (CxSCCs) and a subset of SCCs of the head and neck (HNSCCs). The latter differ from hrHPV-negative HNSCCs at the clinical and molecular level.


To determine whether hrHPV-associated SCCs arising from different organs have specific chromosomal alterations in common, we compared genome-wide chromosomal profiles of 10 CxSCCs (all hrHPV-positive) with 12 hrHPV-positive HNSCCs and 30 hrHPV-negative HNSCCs. Potential organ-specific alterations and alterations shared by SCCs in general were investigated as well.


Unsupervised hierarchical clustering resulted in one mainly hrHPV-positive and one mainly hrHPV-negative cluster. Interestingly, loss at 13q and gain at 20q were frequent in HPV-positive carcinomas of both origins, but uncommon in hrHPV-negative HNSCCs, indicating that these alterations are associated with hrHPV-mediated carcinogenesis. Within the group of hrHPV-positive carcinomas, HNSCCs more frequently showed gains of multiple regions at 8q whereas CxSCCs more often showed loss at 17p. Finally, gains at 3q24-29 and losses at 11q22.3-25 were frequent (>50%) in all sample groups.


In this study hrHPV-specific, organ-specific, and pan-SCC chromosomal alterations were identified. The existence of hrHPV-specific alterations in SCCs of different anatomical origin, suggests that these alterations are crucial for hrHPV-mediated carcinogenesis.

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