Methylation of HPV16 genome CpG sites is associated with cervix precancer and cancer

Gynecol Oncol. 2011 Apr;121(1):59-63. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2011.01.013.


Objective: Invasive cervix cancer (ICC) is the second most common malignant tumor in women. Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) causes more than 50% of all ICC and is a major cause of cervix intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN). DNA methylation is a covalent modification predominantly occurring at CpG dinucleotides. Such epigenetic modifications are associated with changes in DNA-protein interactions and gene activation. This study examined the association of viral and host genomic methylation patterns and cervix neoplasia.

Methods: Exfoliated cervical lavage samples positive for HPV16 from women with and without cytomorphic changes of infection (n=46), CIN2 (n=12), and CIN3+ (n=27) were used to interrogate the methylation patterns of the HPV16 L1 gene and upstream regulatory region (URR), five host nuclear genes (TERT, RARB, DAPK1, MAL, and CADM1), and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). DNA isolated from exfoliated cervicovaginal cells was treated with bisulfite, specific regions of the viral and host genome were PCR amplified and CpG methylation was quantified using EpiTYPER and pyrosequencing.

Results: Methylation at 14 of the tested CpG sites within the HPV16 L1 region were significantly higher in CIN3+ compared to HPV16 genomes from women without CIN3+. In contrast, 2/16 CpG sites in HPV16 URR, 5/5 in TERT, 1/4 in DAPK1 and 1/3 mtDNA, and 2/5 in RARB were associated with increased methylation in CIN3+.

Conclusions: These results indicate that increased methylation of CpG sites in the HPV16 L1 ORF is associated with CIN3+ and, thus, may constitute a potential biomarker for precancerous and cancerous cervix disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / genetics*
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / pathology
  • Cervical Intraepithelial Neoplasia / virology*
  • CpG Islands
  • DNA Methylation*
  • DNA, Neoplasm / genetics
  • DNA, Neoplasm / metabolism
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*


  • DNA, Neoplasm
  • DNA, Viral