Expression status of p16 protein is associated with human papillomavirus oncogenic potential in cervical and genital lesions

Am J Pathol. 1998 Dec;153(6):1741-8. doi: 10.1016/S0002-9440(10)65689-1.


The p16 protein (p16) is a cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor that decelerates the cell cycle by inactivating the CDKs that phosphorylate retinoblastoma (Rb) protein. Recent biological studies have revealed that p16 expression is markedly influenced by the status of Rb expression, and p16 overexpression has been demonstrated in cervical cancers because of functional inactivation of Rb by human papillomavirus (HPV) E7 protein. To clarify the relationship between p16 overexpression and HPV infection in cervical carcinogenesis, immunohistochemical analysis of p16 and detection of HPV by in situ hybridization and polymerase chain reaction were performed on 139 formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded samples of cervical and genital condylomatous and neoplastic lesions. Marked overexpression of p16 protein, ie, diffuse and strong immunostaining, was observed in all cervical cancers and preneoplastic lesions with infection by high- and intermediate-risk HPVs, ie, subtypes 16, 18, 31, 33, 52, and 58. Condylomata acuminata and low-grade squamous intraepithelial lesions with infection by low-risk HPV such as HPV-6/11 showed focal and weak immunohistochemical staining for p16. Our results clearly showed that the mode of p16 expression in lesions with high- and intermediate-risk HPVs differed from its expression in lesions with low-risk HPVs and thus might be attributable to differences in functional inactivation of Rb protein by different HPVs.

MeSH terms

  • Condylomata Acuminata / metabolism
  • Condylomata Acuminata / virology
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16 / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Genital Diseases, Female / metabolism
  • Genital Diseases, Female / virology
  • Genital Diseases, Male / metabolism
  • Genital Diseases, Male / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Male
  • Papillomaviridae / isolation & purification*
  • Papillomavirus Infections / metabolism*
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Virus Infections / metabolism*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / virology*


  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16