HPV16 causes half of cervical cancers worldwide; for unknown reasons, most infections resolve within two years. Here, we analyze the viral genomes of 5,328 HPV16-positive case-control samples to investigate mutational signatures and the role of human APOBEC3-induced mutations in viral clearance and cervical carcinogenesis. We identify four de novo mutational signatures, one of which matches the COSMIC APOBEC-associated signature 2. The viral genomes of the precancer/cancer cases are less likely to contain within-host somatic HPV16 APOBEC3-induced mutations (Fisher’s exact test, P = 6.2 x 10−14), and have a 30% lower nonsynonymous APOBEC3 mutation burden compared to controls. We replicate the low prevalence of HPV16 APOBEC3-induced mutations in 1,749 additional cases. APOBEC3 mutations also historically contribute to the evolution of HPV16 lineages. We demonstrate that cervical infections with a greater burden of somatic HPV16 APOBEC3-induced mutations are more likely to be benign or subsequently clear, suggesting they may reduce persistence, and thus progression, within the host.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)