Cervical biopsies were collected from Birmingham women having cervical intraepithelial neoplasia or invasive cervical carcinoma and normal controls, and examined for the presence of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) E6–E7 DNA and mRNA using an adaptation of the polymerase chain reaction. HPV-16 E6–E7 sequences were detected in all abnormal biopsies and in 90% of the normal biopsies examined, confirming previous studies describing the high prevalence of cervical HPV-16 infection. While we were unable to identify any qualitative differences in RNA transcripts from the p97 promoter, substantial quantitative differences in HPV-16-specific early region transcripts between normal and cytologically abnormal cervices were observed. These results suggest that although the level of E6–E7 transcription may contribute to the malignant phenotype, additional factors are likely to be important in the development of cervical neoplasia.


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