To assess the role of human papillomavirus virus (HPV) genetics in cervical lesions, we sequenced the E7 gene of HPV16, 31, or 73 from singly infected women who (1) cleared the infection quickly, (2) had type-specific persistent infection, or (3) progressed to CIN2 or worse lesions. Four of the 296 HPV16 E7 nucleotides were variable, compared with 7 of 296 for HPV31 E7 and 4 of 296 for HPV73 E7. While most of the polymorphisms in HPV31 and -73 resulted in non-synonymous amino acid changes, the polymorphisms in the HPV16 E7 resulted in synonymous changes. The lack of heterogeneity of HPV16 E7 suggests high evolutionary purifying selection that might be related to the unique carcinogenicity of HPV16.
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