A number of genital cancer biopsy samples were screened for the presence of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) DNA sequences. One of these samples (a vulvar carcinoma ) was found to contain more than 100 copies of HPV-16 DNA sequences per cell. Using this tumour DNA, a genomic library was constructed in bacteriophage lambda and the library was screened for recombinant phage containing HPV-16 sequences. Five recombinant phage clones were isolated and their DNA was analysed by restriction endonuclease digestion and blot hybridization. All five recombinants contained two copies of the HPV-16 genome present in a head-to-tail arrangement. The data are consistent with the presence of HPV-16 sequences in the tumour DNA arranged as genomic dimers in a circular episomal configuration. The HPV-16 genomes contained a deletion within the non-coding region, a region which includes the viral origin of DNA replication and transcriptional control sequences. Possible consequences of this deletion for viral replication and transcription are discussed.


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