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1.  Condylomatous Genital Lesions in Cynomolgus Macaques from Mauritius 
Toxicologic pathology  2012;41(6):893-901.
Genital condyloma-like lesions were observed on male and female cynomolgus macaque monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) originating from the island of Mauritius. Cytobrush and/or biopsy samples were obtained from lesions of 57 affected macaques. Primary histologic features included eosinophilic, neutrophilic, and lymphoplasmacytic penile and vulvar inflammation, epidermal hyperplasia with acanthosis, and increased collagenous stroma. Polymerase chain reaction–based assays to amplify viral DNA revealed the presence of macaque lymphocryptovirus (LCV) DNA but not papillomavirus or poxvirus DNA. Subsequent DNA analyses of 3 genomic regions of LCV identified isolates associated with lesions in 19/25 (76%) biopsies and 19/57 (33%) cytology samples. Variable immunolabeling for proteins related to the human LCV Epstein Barr Virus was observed within intralesional plasma cells, stromal cells, and epithelial cells. Further work is needed to characterize the epidemiologic features of these lesions and their association with LCV infection in Mauritian-origin macaques.
PMCID: PMC3980466  PMID: 23262641
genital; condyloma; macaque; primate; gammaherpesvirus; lymphocryptovirus; papillomavirus; Mauritius
2.  Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Is Associated With Genital Tract Mucosal Inflammation 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2012;39(8):591-597.
Clinical studies demonstrate increased prevalence of human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated disease in HIV-infected individuals and an increased risk of HIV acquisition in HPV-infected individuals. The mechanisms underlying this synergy are not defined. We hypothesize that women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) will exhibit changes in soluble mucosal immunity that may promote HPV persistence and facilitate HIV infection.
The concentrations of immune mediators and endogenous anti-Escherichia coli activity in genital tract secretions collected by cervicovaginal lavage were compared in HIV-negative women with high-risk HPV-positive (HRHPV+) CIN-3 (n = 37), HRHPV+ CIN-1 (n = 12), or PAP-negative control subjects (n = 57).
Compared with control subjects, women with CIN-3 or CIN-1 displayed significantly higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines including interleukin (IL)-1α, IL-1β, and IL-8 (P < 0.002) and significantly lower levels of anti-inflammatory mediators and antimicrobial peptides, including IL-1 receptor antagonist, secretory leukocyte protease inhibitor (P < 0.01), and human β defensins 2 and 3 (P < 0.02). There was no significant difference in endogenous anti-E. coli activity after controlling for age and sample storage time.
HRHPV+ CIN is characterized by changes in soluble mucosal immunity that could contribute to HPV persistence. The observed mucosal inflammation suggests a mechanism that may also contribute to the epidemiologic link between persistent HPV and HIV.
PMCID: PMC3981065  PMID: 22801340
3.  High load for most high risk human papillomavirus genotypes is associated with prevalent cervical cancer precursors but only HPV16 load predicts the development of incident disease 
Cervicovaginal human papillomavirus (HPV) viral load has been purported as a potential marker for the detection of high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or cancer (≥CIN2). To examine disease association with type-specific viral load for the full-range of anogenital HPV infections, we conducted cross-sectional and prospective analyses of ∼2,000 HPV-infected women from a 10,000-woman population-based study in Guanacaste, Costa Rica with 7 years of follow-up. Cervical specimens were tested for >40 HPV types using a MY09/MY11 L1 consensus primer PCR method with type-specific dot blot hybridization and PCR signal intensity as a measure of viral load. A positive association was observed between prevalent ≥CIN2 and high viral load compared to low viral load for women with baseline single HPV16 infections (OR = 19.2, 95% CI = 4.4–83.2) and single non-16 carcinogenic infections (OR = 9.2, 95% CI = 2.1–39.9). Inclusion of women with multiple HPV types did not substantially change these associations. In prospective follow-up, only women infected with HPV16 alone (OR = 27.2, 95% = 3.5-213.5) had a strong association between high viral load and incident ≥CIN2; non-16 carcinogenic high viral load was not associated with incident ≥CIN2 (OR = 0.7, 95% CI = 0.2–1.9). Single noncarcinogenic type viral load was not associated with increased risk of prevalent or incident ≥CIN2 (OR = 1.2 and 1.1, respectively). In conclusion, carcinogenic high viral load was associated with prevalent ≥CIN2; however HPV16 was uniquely associated with incident ≥CIN2. The extent to which these observations can be translated into clinical practice must be rigorously examined in the context of the method of viral load measurement and the type-specific differences observed for incident ≥CIN2.
PMCID: PMC3962984  PMID: 17722112
human papillomavirus; viral load; genotype; screening
4.  Identification and characterization of two novel human papillomaviruses (HPVs) by overlapping PCR: HPV102 and HPV106 
The Journal of general virology  2007;88(0 11):2952-2955.
Complete genomes of HPV102 (8078 bp) and HPV106 (8035 bp) were PCR amplified and cloned from cervicovaginal cells of a 49-year-old Hispanic female with reactive changes on her Pap test and a 42-year-old Hispanic female with a Pap test diagnosis of atypical squamous cells of unknown significance (ASCUS), respectively. The nucleotide sequence similarity of the complete L1 open reading frame (ORF) determined that HPV102 and HPV106 are most closely related to HPV83 (84.1 % identity) and HPV90 (83.5 % identity), respectively, placing them in the genital HPV groups, papillomaviruses species α3 and α15. HPV102 and HPV106 contain five early genes (E6, E7, E1, E2, and E4) and two late genes (L2 and L1), and both lack an E5 ORF. On the basis of phylogenetic analyses and available clinical information, these two novel HPV types expand the heterogeneity of HPVs detected in the lower genital tract.
PMCID: PMC3963832  PMID: 17947516
5.  A Comparison of Cervical and Vaginal Human Papillomavirus 
Sexually transmitted diseases  2007;34(11):849-855.
We wanted to compare detection of a broad spectrum of human papillomavirus (HPV) types detected in cellular specimens from the vagina and cervix, which could provide information about the potential of each anatomical site for harboring infection. Previous studies have failed to present data on or detect a broad spectrum of HPV genotypes and/or have not carefully sampled the vagina, instead relying on self-collection that is likely contaminated with cervical cells.
Study Design
We conducted follow-up study of 353 women who had participated in study of HPV and cervical neoplasia in Costa Rica. We collected paired cervical and vaginal specimens; vaginal specimens were collected from the fornix to minimize cervical contamination. Specimens were tested in a masked fashion for >40 HPV types using a MY09/MY11 PCR method and type-specific dot blot hybridization.
The prevalence for any carcinogenic HPV type in vaginal and cervical specimens was similar (P = 0.3). However, the prevalence for any HPV type in vaginal specimens was greater than in cervical specimens (P = 0.0002), primarily due to a twofold increased vaginal prevalence of HPV types of the α3/α15 phylogenetic species (e.g., HPV61) (P <0.00005).
Carcinogenic HPV types appeared to have a similar affinity for vaginal and cervical epithelium, but noncarcinogenic HPV types of the α3/α15 phylogenetic species may have a tropism for vaginal epithelium.
PMCID: PMC3962831  PMID: 17621246
6.  Elevated methylation of HPV16 DNA is associated with the development of high grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 
We explored the association of HPV16 DNA methylation with age, viral load, viral persistence, and risk of incident and prevalent high grade CIN (CIN2+) in serially collected specimens from the Guanacaste, Costa Rica cohort. 273 exfoliated cervical cell specimens (diagnostic and pre-diagnostic) were selected: 1) 92 with HPV16 DNA clearance (controls), 2) 72 with HPV16 DNA persistence (without CIN2+), and 3) 109 with CIN2+. DNA was extracted, bisulfite converted and methylation was quantified using pyrosequencing assays at 66 CpGs across the HPV genome. The Kruskal-Wallis test was used to determine significant differences among groups, and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were used to evaluate how well methylation identified women with CIN2+. In diagnostic specimens, 88% of CpG sites had significantly higher methylation levels in CIN2+ after correction for multiple tests compared with controls. The highest AUC was 0.82 for CpG site 6457 in L1, and a diagnostic sensitivity of 91% corresponded to a specificity of 60% for CIN2+. Prospectively, 17% of CpG sites had significantly higher methylation in pre-diagnostic CIN2+ specimens (median time of 3 years before diagnosis) vs. controls. The strongest pre-diagnostic CpG site was 6367 in L1 with an AUC of 0.76. Age-stratified analyses suggested that women older than the median age of 28 years have an increased risk of precancer associated with high methylation. Higher methylation in CIN2+ cases was not explained by higher viral load. We conclude that elevated levels of HPV16 DNA methylation may be useful to predict concurrently diagnosed as well as future CIN2+.
PMCID: PMC3493709  PMID: 22847263
HPV16; methylation; epidemiology; receiver operating curve; biomarker
7.  Characterization of Human Papillomavirus Type 154 and Tissue Tropism of Gammapapillomaviruses 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89342.
The novel human papillomavirus type 154 (HPV154) was characterized from a wart on the crena ani of a three-year-old boy. It was previously designated as the putative HPV type FADI3 by sequencing of a subgenomic FAP amplicon. We obtained the complete genome by combined methods including rolling circle amplification (RCA), genome walking through an adapted method for detection of integrated papillomavirus sequences by ligation-mediated PCR (DIPS-PCR), long-range PCR, and finally by cloning of four overlapping amplicons. Phylogenetically, the HPV154 genome clustered together with members of the proposed species Gammapapillomavirus 11, and demonstrated the highest identity in L1 to HPV136 (68.6%). The HPV154 was detected in 3% (2/62) of forehead skin swabs from healthy children. In addition, the different detection sites of 62 gammapapillomaviruses were summarized in order to analyze their tissue tropism. Several of these HPV types have been detected from multiple sources such as skin, oral, nasal, and genital sites, suggesting that the gammapapillomaviruses are generalists with a broader tissue tropism than previously appreciated. The study expands current knowledge concerning genetic diversity and tropism among HPV types in the rapidly growing gammapapillomavirus genus.
PMCID: PMC3923884  PMID: 24551244
9.  Associations of High-Grade Prostate Cancer with BRCA1 and BRCA2 Founder Mutations 
Protein-truncating mutations in BRCA1 and in particular BRCA2 genes have been associated with prostate cancer. However, there is still uncertainty about the magnitude of association particularly with Gleason score, and family history of prostate, breast, and ovary cancers.
Experimental Design
To further examine associations between three founder mutations located in BRCA1 (185delAG, 5382insC) or BRCA2 (6174delT) genes and prostate cancer, we conducted a study of 979 prostate cancer cases and 1,251 controls among Ashkenazi Jewish men. Detailed information was obtained on prostate cancer pathology, age at diagnosis, and family history of all cancers. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using logistic regression models.
Prostate cancer risk was increased (OR, 1.9; 95% CI 0.9-4.1) for BRCA2 mutation carriers but not for BRCA1 mutation carriers. BRCA2 mutation carriers had an OR of 3.2 (95% CI, 1.4-7.3) for Gleason score of 7 to 10, but no association was observed for Gleason score of <7. Carriers of BRCA1-185delAG mutation also had an OR of 3.5 (95% CI, 1.2-10.3) for Gleason score of ≥7 tumors; however, the association of either BRCA1-185delAG or 5382insC mutation was not statistically significant. Associations between founder mutations and prostate cancer were stronger in men with no first-degree family history of breast and/or ovarian cancers but were unaffected by family history of prostate cancer.
These results indicate that the BRCA2 founder mutation confers a 3-fold elevated risk of high-grade prostate cancer. Although BRCA1 mutations were not associated with prostate cancer, the BRCA1-185delAG was associated with high Gleason score tumors. These findings should be carefully considered in genetic counseling and/or evaluating therapeutic options.
PMCID: PMC3722558  PMID: 19188187
10.  Effectiveness of a simple rapid HPV DNA test in rural Nigeria 
Success of the new HPV DNA test for low-resource settings (careHPV™ test, QIAGEN Gaithersburg, Inc.; Gaithersburg, MD) requires good test performance when operated by personnel with limited laboratory experience. We evaluated the transferability, reliability, and accuracy of the careHPV test nested within a cervical screening project in a large Nigerian village. CareHPV testing was performed on screen-positive (n=345) and screen-negative (n=42) women attending colposcopy (68.3% of referred). Biopsies of abnormal-appearing areas were processed and read in the U.S. CareHPV specimens taken immediately before colposcopy were processed up to four times [in the field] by two secondary school graduates without laboratory experience, trained for this study. Specifically, QIAGEN Gaithersburg trained a laboratory-inexperienced U.S. researcher, who trained the first local technician who, in turn, trained the second. Residual specimens were sent to the U.S. for MY09/MY11 PCR testing for 13 carcinogenic genotypes (HPV16, 18, 31, 33, 35, 39, 45, 51, 52, 56, 58, 59, 68) plus HPV66 (included in careHPV). Intra-rater agreement was 98.8% (Kappa=.97) and 98.9% (Kappa=.97) for technicians 1 and 2, respectively while inter-rater agreement was 96.3% (Kappa=.90). Agreement with MY09/MY11 PCR (virologic reference standard) was 89.3% (Kappa=.73) with 74.2% sensitivity and 95.7% specificity. The careHPV test detected 12 (80%) of 15 histologically-confirmed cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 (CIN2) or worse lesions, with an estimated 83.0% specificity to detect < CIN2. In a challenging low-resource setting with minimal intervention, the careHPV test performed adequately with high specificity but possibly lower sensitivity than HPV DNA tests currently used in controlled situations.
PMCID: PMC3404249  PMID: 22473652
screening; cervical cancer prevention; HPV DNA testing; test accuracy
11.  Human Papillomavirus DNA Methylation as a Potential Biomarker for Cervical Cancer 
Sexually transmitted carcinogenic Human Papillomavirus (HPV) infections are extraordinarily prevalent worldwide. However, most incident HPV infections clear within a few years, whereas a small minority persists to invasive cancer. Recent studies indicate that detection of methylated viral DNA may distinguish women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2+ (CIN2+) from those with a carcinogenic HPV type infection that shows no evidence of CIN2+. Several studies have reported a positive association between methylation of CpG sites in the L1 gene and CIN2+, while there are inconclusive results regarding methylation of CpG sites in the Upstream Regulatory Region (URR). In this review, we summarize the current state of knowledge on HPV DNA methylation in cervical carcinogenesis, and discuss the merits of different methods used to measure HPV DNA methylation. To follow the promising leads, we suggest future studies to validate the use of methylated carcinogenic HPV DNA as a predictive and/or diagnostic biomarker for risk of cervical cancer among HPV-positive women.
PMCID: PMC3664203  PMID: 23035178
human papillomavirus; methylation; cervical cancer; biomarker; epigenetics
12.  Methylation of HPV18, HPV31, and HPV45 Genomes and Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia Grade 3 
Persistent infections with carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) types are the necessary cause of cervical cancer. We recently demonstrated that the HPV16 genome is strongly methylated in cervical precancer compared with transient infections. However, the extent of methylation in other HPV types and its role in progression to cancer is poorly understood.
We analyzed whole-genome methylation patterns of the three next most carcinogenic HPV genotypes: HPV31 (closely related to HPV16), and two other closely related types, HPV18 and HPV45. DNA was extracted from cervical cytology specimens from 92 women with precancer and 96 women infected with HPV31, HPV18, or HPV45, but who had no cytological or histological abnormalities. After bisulfite modification, genome-wide pyrosequencing was performed covering 80–106 sites. We calculated differences in median methylation, odds ratios, areas under the curve, and Spearman rank correlation coefficients for methylation levels between different sites. All statistical tests were two-sided.
For all three HPV types, we observed strongly elevated methylation levels at multiple CpG sites in the E2, L2, and L1 regions among women with cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 compared with women with transient infections. We observed high correlation of methylation patterns between phylogenetically related types. The highest areas under the curve were 0.81 for HPV31, 0.85 for HPV18, and 0.98 for HPV45. Differential methylation patterns in cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 patients with multiple infections suggest that methylation can clarify which of the infections is causal.
Carcinogenic HPV DNA methylation indicates transforming HPV infections. Our findings show that methylation of carcinogenic HPV types is a general phenomenon that warrants development of diagnostic assays.
PMCID: PMC3571257  PMID: 23093560
13.  Association between hTERT activation by HPV E6 proteins and oncogenic risk 
Virology  2012;433(1):216-219.
Expression of activated telomerase and subversion of the p16/pRb pathway is sufficient and essential for the in vitro immortalization of primary keratinocytes. Most cancers - including cervical carcinoma - over-express hTERT, the catalytic domain of the telomerase complex.
Only a limited set of viruses within the Alphapapillomavirus genus are oncogenic. The viral functions responsible for this distinction are not well understood. The human papillomavirus type 16 E6 protein activates the hTERT promoter.
We used a luciferase-based assay to test the ability of 29 viral types, representing all current species within the Alphapapillomavirus genus, to activate the hTERT promoter. We show that oncogenic types specifically activate the hTERT promoter, while non-oncogenic types do not. Statistical analysis supports the notion that activation of the hTERT promoter is uniquely associated with oncogenic types, independent of evolutionary relationships. This finding begins to shed light on the viral phenotypes correlated with oncogenic potential.
PMCID: PMC3449093  PMID: 22925336
14.  Prevalence and Risk Factors for HPV in HIV-Positive Young Women Receiving Their First HPV Vaccination 
The objectives of this study were to describe the prevalence and risk factors for HPV infection among HIV-infected young women receiving their first quadrivalent HPV (HPV-6, -11, -16, -18) vaccine dose.
We recruited 16-23 year-old women from 14 sites for an HPV vaccine trial. At the first visit they completed a questionnaire and were tested for cervicovaginal HPV DNA (41 types) and HPV serology (4 vaccine types). Factors associated with any HPV, type-specific HPV, and high-risk (cancer-associated) HPV infection were identified using univariate and multivariable logistic regression.
The mean age of participants (N=99) was 21.4 years, 30.3% were on antiretroviral therapy, 74.7% were positive for > 1 HPV DNA type, 53.5% for > 1 high-risk type, 12.1% for HPV-16, and 5.1% for HPV-18. Most were HPV DNA negative and seronegative for HPV-16 (55.6%) and HPV-18 (73.7%); 45.5% were HPV DNA and seronegative for both HPV-16 and -18. Three variables were associated with high-risk HPV DNA in multivariable analysis: non-Hispanic Black vs. Hispanic ethnicity (AOR 7.06, 95% CI 1.63-30.5), HIV viral load > 400 vs. < 400 copies/mL (AOR 3.47, 95% CI 1.28-9.43), and frequency of vaginal sex in the past 90 days (AOR 5.82, 95% CI 1.30-26.11 for > 6 vs. 0 times).
The prevalence of > 1 HPV type was high in these young women, demonstrating the importance of vaccinating prior to sexual initiation. However, most were HPV DNA negative and seronegative for high-risk, vaccine-type HPV infection, supporting vaccination of sexually experienced HIV-positive young women.
PMCID: PMC3480995  PMID: 22820809
human papillomavirus; vaccine; epidemiology; women; HIV
15.  Cervicovaginal HPV Infection Before and After Hysterectomy: Evidence of Different Tissue Tropism for Oncogenic and Non-Oncogenic HPV Types in a Cohort of HIV-positive and HIV-negative Women 
Human papillomavirus (HPV) is detected in nearly all cervical cancers and approximately half of vaginal cancers. However, vaginal cancer is an order of magnitude less common than cervical cancer, not only in the general population but also among women with HIV/AIDS. It is interesting therefore that recent studies found that HPV was common in both normal vaginal and cervical tissue, with higher prevalence of non-oncogenic HPV types in the vagina. In the current investigation, we prospectively examined HPV infection in 86 HIV-positive and 17 HIV-negative women who underwent hysterectomy during follow-up in a longitudinal cohort. Cervicovaginal lavage specimens were obtained semi-annually and tested for HPV DNA by PCR. To address possible selection biases associated with having a hysterectomy, subjects acted as their own comparison group – before versus after hysterectomy. The average HPV prevalence was higher in HIV-positive than HIV-negative women both before (59% versus 12%; P<0.001) and after hysterectomy (56% versus 6%; P<0.001). Multivariate random effects models (within-individual comparisons) demonstrated significantly lower HPV prevalence (odds ratio [OR]=0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI]=0.59-0.85) after hysterectomy. The association of HPV prevalence with hysterectomy was similar among HIV-positive and HIV-negative women. However, hysterectomy had greater effects on oncogenic (OR=0.48; 95%CI=0.35-0.66) than non-oncogenic HPV types (OR=0.89; 95%CI=0.71-1.11; Pinteraction=0.002). Overall, we observed greater reductions in oncogenic than non-oncogenic HPV prevalence following hysterectomy. If correct, these data could suggest that oncogenic HPV have greater tropism for cervical compared with vaginal epithelium, consistent with the lower incidence of vaginal than cervical cancer.
PMCID: PMC3321069  PMID: 22120980
vaginal; HPV; hysterectomy; viral tropism; HIV
16.  Evolution and Taxonomic Classification of Alphapapillomavirus 7 Complete Genomes: HPV18, HPV39, HPV45, HPV59, HPV68 and HPV70 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72565.
The species Alphapapillomavirus 7 (alpha-7) contains human papillomavirus genotypes that account for 15% of invasive cervical cancers and are disproportionately associated with adenocarcinoma of the cervix. Complete genome analyses enable identification and nomenclature of variant lineages and sublineages.
The URR/E6 region was sequenced to screen for novel variants of HPV18, 39, 45, 59, 68, 70, 85 and 97 from 1147 cervical samples obtained from multiple geographic regions that had previously been shown to contain an alpha-7 HPV isolate. To study viral heterogeneity, the complete 8 kb genome of 128 isolates, including 109 sequenced for this analysis, were annotated and analyzed. Viral evolution was characterized by constructing phylogenic trees using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian algorithms. Global and pairwise alignments were used to calculate total and ORF/region nucleotide differences; lineages and sublineages were assigned using an alphanumeric system. The prototype genome was assigned to the A lineage or A1 sublineage.
The genomic diversity of alpha-7 HPV types ranged from 1.1% to 6.7% nucleotide sequence differences; the extent of genome-genome pairwise intratype heterogeneity was 1.1% for HPV39, 1.3% for HPV59, 1.5% for HPV45, 1.6% for HPV70, 2.1% for HPV18, and 6.7% for HPV68. ME180 (previously a subtype of HPV68) was designated as the representative genome for HPV68 sublineage C1. Each ORF/region differed in sequence diversity, from most variable to least variable: noncoding region 1 (NCR1) / noncoding region 2 (NCR2) > upstream regulatory region (URR) > E6 / E7 > E2 / L2 > E1 / L1.
These data provide estimates of the maximum viral genomic heterogeneity of alpha-7 HPV type variants. The proposed taxonomic system facilitates the comparison of variants across epidemiological and molecular studies. Sequence diversity, geographic distribution and phylogenetic topology of this clinically important group of HPVs suggest an independent evolutionary history for each type.
PMCID: PMC3745470  PMID: 23977318
17.  Characterization of human papillomavirus type 120: a novel betapapillomavirus with tropism for multiple anatomical niches 
The Journal of General Virology  2012;93(Pt 8):1774-1779.
Recent studies indicate that human papillomaviruses (HPVs) from the genera Betapapillomavirus and Gammapapillomavirus are abundant in the human oral cavity. We report the cloning and characterization of a 7304 bp HPV120 genome from the oral cavity that is related most closely to HPV23 (L1 ORF, 83.7 % similarity), clustering it in the genus Betapapillomavirus (β-PV). HPV120 contains five early and two late genes, but no E5 ORF. HPV120 was detected from heterogeneous human biological niches, including the oral cavity, eyebrow hairs, anal canal and penile, vulvar and perianal warts. Characterization of the clinical spectrum of HPV120 infections indicates a broader spectrum of epithelial tropism than appreciated previously for HPV types from the genus β-PV.
PMCID: PMC3541761  PMID: 22552941
18.  Down-regulation of integrins by von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor protein is independent of VHL directed hypoxia-inducible factor alpha degradation 
Inactivation of the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene occurs in the majority of clear-cell renal cell carcinomas (RCC). It was previously shown that VHL decreased the abundance of integrin α2, α5 and β1 – consistent with VHL-associated changes in cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix adhesions. We investigated the mechanism by which VHL down-regulates integrins. Although VHL can target hypoxia-inducible factor alpha (HIFα) subunits for degradation, VHL-dependent reduction of integrins was independent of O2 concentration and HIFα levels. VHL reduced the half-lives of integrins and this activity was blocked by proteasomal inhibition. Ectopic expression of Flag-VHL, while retaining activity for HIFα degradation, neither down-regulated integrins nor promoted adherens and tight intercellular junctions, in contrast to expression of wild-type VHL. Moreover, integrins co-immunoprecipitaed with wild type VHL, but not Flag-VHL. These data indicate that down-regulation of integrins by VHL is distinct from VHL’s regulation of HIF α subunits, and suggests that loss of this activity contributes to VHL-associated RCC development through disruption of adherens and tight junctions.
PMCID: PMC3708035  PMID: 18523483
VHL; integrin; adherens junctions; tight junctions; HIF
19.  Evolutionary and biophysical relationships among the papillomavirus E2 proteins 
Infection by a human papillomavirus (HPV) may result in a variety of clinical conditions ranging from benign warts to invasive cancer depending on the viral type. The HPV E2 protein represses transcription of the E6 and E7 genes in integrated papillomavirus genomes and together with the E1 protein is required for viral replication. E2 proteins bind with high affinity to palindromic DNA sequences consisting of two highly conserved four base pair sequences flanking a variable ‘spacer’ of identical length. The E2 proteins directly contact the conserved DNA but not the spacer DNA. However, variation in naturally occurring spacer sequences results in differential protein binding affinity. This discrimination in binding is dependent on their sensitivity to the unique conformational and/or dynamic properties of the spacer DNA in a process termed ‘indirect readout’. This article explores the structure of the E2 proteins and their interaction with DNA and other proteins, the effects of ions on affinity and specificity, and the phylogenetic and biophysical nature of this core viral protein. We have analyzed the sequence conservation and electrostatic features of three-dimensional models of the DNA binding domains of 146 papillomavirus types and variants with the goal of identifying characteristics that associated with risk of virally caused malignancy. The amino acid sequence, three-dimensional structure, and the electrostatic features of E2 protein DNA binding domain showed high conservation among all papillomavirus types. This indicates that the specific interactions between the E2 protein and its binding sites on DNA have been conserved throughout PV evolution. Analysis of the E2 protein’s transactivation domain showed that unlike the DNA binding domain, the transactivation domain does not have extensive surfaces of highly conserved residues. Rather, the regions of high conservation are localized to small surface patches. The invariance of the E2 DNA binding domain structure, electrostatics and sequence suggests that it may be a suitable target for the development of vaccines effective against a broad spectrum of HPV types.
PMCID: PMC3705561  PMID: 19273107
Papillomavirus; DNA; Protein-DNA interactions; Electrostatics; E2; Review
20.  Behavioral/Lifestyle and Immunologic Factors Associated with HPV Infection among Women Older Than 45 Years 
Cervical human papilloma virus (HPV) detection increases after menopause, but its determinants need clarification.
In a case–control study nested within a 10,049 women cohort, we evaluated women 45 to 75 years old who acquired HPV infection and were HPV positive 5 to 6 years after enrollment (N = 252), and HPV-negative women as matched controls (N = 265). Detailed sexual behavior and cellular immune response were investigated. Odds ratios (OR) and attributable fractions were estimated.
Women with 2+ lifetime partners had 1.7-fold (95% CI = 1.1–2.7) higher risk than monogamous women, with similar findings if their partners had other partners. Women with 2+ partners after last HPV-negative result had the highest risk (OR = 3.9; 95% CI = 1.2–12.4 compared with 0–1 partners). Weaker immune response to HPV-16 virus-like particles increased risk (OR = 1.7; 95% CI = 1.1–2.7 comparing lowest to highest tertile). Among women with no sexual activity in the period before HPV appearance, reduced immune response to phytohemagglutinin was the only determinant (OR = 2.9; 95% CI = 0.94–8.8). Twenty-one percent of infections were explained by recent sexual behavior, 21% by past sexual behavior, and 12% by reduced immune response.
New infections among older women may result from sexual activity of women and/or their partners or reappearance of past (latent) infections possibly related to weakened immune response.
HPV infections among older women are associated with current and past sexual exposures and possibly with immune senescence. The risk of cancer from these infections is likely to be low but could not be fully evaluated in the context of this study.
PMCID: PMC3703390  PMID: 20952561
21.  Long-term risk of recurrent cervical HPV infection and precancer and cancer following excisional treatment 
Risk of recurrent CIN2+ (including cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 2 [CIN2], CIN3, carcinoma and in situ, adenocarcinoma in situ or cancer) remains elevated for years following treatment. The role of long-term post-treatment HPV presence on subsequent risk of CIN2+ was evaluated in the 10,049-women Guanacaste cohort. 681 women were referred to colposcopy because of high-grade cytology, positive cervicography and/or suspicion of cancer based on visual assessment; 486 were judged to require treatment. After excluding women with <12 months of follow-up (N=88), prior cancer or hysterectomy (n=37) or other reasons (N=14), 347 were included in the analysis. Infections were categorized as persistent if present at both pre- and post-treatment visits and new if detected only post-treatment. Median time between the treatment and post-treatment visits was 6.7 years (IQR 3.8 to 7.8). At the post-treatment visit, 8 (2.4%), 2 (0.6%), and 8 (2.4%) of the 347 treated women had persistent HPV16, HPV18, or other carcinogenic HPV, respectively. Two (0.8%), 3 (1.0%), and 13 (4.0%) had new HPV16, HPV18, and other carcinogenic HPV, respectively. Six CIN2+ cases were identified at the post-treatment visit, all with persistent infections (three HPV16, one HPV18, and two other carcinogenic HPV). No recurrent disease was observed among women with new HPV infections during the follow-up period. Thus, persistence of HPV infection a median of six years after treatment was uncommon but, when present, posed a substantial risk of subsequent CIN2+. Serial follow-up data from other studies would further strengthen these conclusions.
PMCID: PMC3334438  PMID: 21823117
22.  Common Variants in Immune and DNA Repair Genes and Risk for Human Papillomavirus Persistence and Progression to Cervical Cancer 
We examined host genetic factors to identify those more common in individuals whose human papillomavirus (HPV) infections were most likely to persist and progress to cervical intraepithelial neoplasia grade 3 (CIN3) and cancer.
We genotyped 92 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 49 candidate immune response and DNA repair genes obtained from 469 women with CIN3 or cancer, 390 women with persistent HPV infections (median duration, 25 months), and 452 random control subjects from the 10,049-woman Guanacaste Costa Rica Natural History Study. We calculated odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the association of SNP and haplotypes in women with CIN3 or cancer and HPV persistence, compared with random control subjects.
A SNP in the Fanconi anemia complementation group A gene (FANCA) (G501S) was associated with increased risk of CIN3 or cancer. The AG and GG genotypes had a 1.3-fold (95% CI, 0.95–1.8-fold) and 1.7-fold (95% CI, 1.1–2.6-fold) increased risk for CIN3 or cancer, respectively (Ptrend = .008; referent, AA). The FANCA haplotype that included G501S also conferred increased risk of CIN3 or cancer, as did a different haplotype that included 2 other FANCA SNPs (G809A and T266A). A SNP in the innate immune gene IRF3 (S427T) was associated with increased risk for HPV persistence (Ptrend = .009).
Our results require replication but support the role of FANCA variants in cervical cancer susceptibility and of IRF3 in HPV persistence.
PMCID: PMC3690375  PMID: 19012493
23.  Evolution of Human Papillomavirus Carcinogenicity 
Advances in virus research  2010;77:41-62.
Members of the Alphapapillomavirus genus are the causative agent for virtually all cases of cervical cancer. However, strains (commonly referred to as types) within this genus span the entire range of pathogenicity from highly carcinogenic (e.g., HPV16, odds ratio = 281.9, responsible for 50% of all cervical cancers), moderately carcinogenic (e.g., HPV31) to not carcinogenic (e.g., HPV71). The persistent expression of the viral oncoproteins (E6 and E7) from HPV16 has been shown to be necessary and sufficient to transform primary human keratinocytes in vitro. A plethora of functions have been described for both oncoproteins, and through functional comparisons between HPV16 and HPV6, a subset of these functions have been suggested to be oncogenic. However, extrapolating functional differences from these comparisons is unlikely to tease apart the fine details. In this review, we argue that a thorough understanding of the molecular mechanisms differentiating oncogenic from nononcogenic types should be obtained by performing functional assays in an evolutionary and epidemiological framework. We continue by interpreting some recent results using this paradigm and end by suggesting directions for future inquiries.
PMCID: PMC3690501  PMID: 20951869
25.  The age-specific prevalence of human papillomavirus and risk of cytologic abnormalities in rural Nigeria: Implications for screen-and-treat strategies 
Cervical screening for carcinogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is being considered for low income countries. Effectiveness requires targeted screening in older women in whom prevalent infections are more likely to be persistent and predictive of precancer. Some studies in West Africa have found unusually high HPV prevalences across all adult ages, that may reduce the positive predictive value (PPV) of HPV-based screening, if positivity in older women does not sufficiently predict elevated risk. We conducted a population-based study in rural Nigeria to identify HPV prevalence and associated cervical abnormalities. Using stratified random sampling, we enrolled women age 15+. Non-virgins had a cervical exam including liquid-based cytology and PCR HPV DNA testing from residual cytology specimens. Two-thirds of invited women participated, and 14.7% had detectable carcinogenic HPV, a proportion that did not decline with age (p-trend=.36) and showed slight peaks in the 15–29 and 60–69 age groups. Among women of the age typically considered for screen-and-treat programs (30–49 years), 12.8% were HPV-positive and the PPV for high-grade or worse cytology was 16.4%. Comparatively, women age <30, were more likely to be HPV-positive (18.9%, p=.03) with a lower PPV (4.2% p=.05). Among women age 50+ (typically excluded from screening in resource-poor settings because inexpensive treatment is not available), HPV positivity was 14.2% with a PPV of 13.9%. In Irun and similar settings where HPV does not decline with age, HPV-based screen-and-treat programs might be feasible for mid-adult women, since prevalence is sufficiently low, positivity predicts elevated risk of more easily treated precancer.
PMCID: PMC3227742  PMID: 21630264
HPV prevalence; age; screening

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