Aim-To test the hypothesis that, because the human papillomavirus (HPV) E2 protein represses viral early gene transcription, E2 gene sequence variation or disruption could play a part in the induction of the numerical chromosome abnormalities that have been described in squamous cervical lesions.
Methods-The integrity and sequence of the E2 gene from 11 cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN) grade 3 lesions and 14 invasive squamous cell carcinomas, all of which contained HPV-16, were analysed by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The E2 gene was amplified in three overlapping fragments and PCR products sequenced directly. Chromosome abnormalities were identified by interphase cytogenetics using chromosome specific probes for chromosomes 1, 3, 11, 17, 18, and X.
Results-E2 gene disruption was present in significantly more invasive carcinomas (eight of 14) than CIN 3 lesions tone of 11) (p = 0.03). No association was found between E2 disruption and the presence of a numerical chromosome abnormality. The E2 gene from the non-disrupted isolates was sequenced and wild-type (n = 5) and variant (n = 11) sequences identified. Variant sequences belonged to European and African classes and contained from one to 15 amino acid substitutions. Although numerical chromosome abnormalities were significantly more frequent in invasive squamous cell carcinoma than CIN 3 (p = 0.04), there was no significant relation between the presence of sequence variation and either histological diagnosis or chromosome abnormality.
Conclusions-These data do not support the hypothesis that E2 gene disruption or variation is important in the induction of chromosome imbalance in these lesions. However, there is a relation between E2 gene disruption and the presence of invasive disease.