We microdissected 15 specimens of invasive cervical cancer co-existing with some of its precursors. Out of 15 cases, 10 carried HPV16, 2 HPV31, 1 HPV18 and 2 were HPV-negative. We found 3 HPV16 E6 variants among the 10 cases; one was A --> G in nt 131 (one case) and a second was A --> G in nt 276. The third, T;--> G in nt 350, was common, and was found in 5 of the 10 patients infected by HPV16. The type of HPV and the E6 variant were identical in all lesions within the same patient. Viral DNA present in normal epithelium was identical in type and E6 variant to HPV in the same patient's lesions. Multiple samples from invasive cancers with HPV were consistently positive. The data suggest that the originally infecting HPV, including its variant type in the E6 gene, persists unaltered in the whole series of CIN that precedes invasive cancer. Our data are compatible with an essential role of HPV manifested by persistence of the viral genome during the entire natural life history of cervical cancer. We did not confirm previous data on the specific association of invasive cancer with an HPV E6 variant (G at nt 350 rather than T). The discrepancy may depend on the relatively few cases investigated or selection of a special sub-set with progression from CIN to invasive cancer already manifest.
Copyright 1999 Wiley-Liss, Inc.