Sequence variations in the E6/E7 (nt 34-880) and the L1-(nt 6584-7035) ORFs, and in the long control region (LCR) (nt 7289-93) of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) were analysed in five penile carcinoma biopsies obtained from Ugandan patients. Uganda is a country with a high incidence of genital cancers. All five isolates were classified as members of African-1 lineage (Af1) by phylogenetic analysis based on LCR sequences. The E6 gene phylogenetic analysis, however, showed that four isolates fell into a new subclass designated Af1-u. This subclass, characterized by three point mutations located at the 5' end of the E6 gene with resulting changes in amino acids at positions 10 and 14, is distinguishable from the Af1 class by the absence of synonymous mutations at nt 286 and 289. The nonsynonymous substitution at nt 335 was present in three out of five samples. The E6 Af1 mutation pattern was present in only a single Ugandan HPV-16 isolate. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the E7 and L1 regions did not allow any Af1 subclass identification. The physical state of the viral DNA in these samples was characterized by PCR and Southern blot analysis. Oligonucleotides which enable amplification of the full length E2 region (nt 2734-3872) failed to amplify the target sequence in four out of five samples, suggesting disruption of the E2 ORF and integration of the HPV genome into the human DNA. Southern blot analysis confirmed the virus integration status. Our results contribute to the characterization of the HPV-16 'African lineages' with the identification of the Af1-u subclass; furthermore, this is also the first report showing that in male genital cancers HPV-16 is integrated into the human genome with disruption of the E2 ORF.


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