The long control region (LCR) and the E2 protein of human papillomaviruses (HPV) are the most important viral factors regulating transcription of the viral oncogenes E6 and E7. Sequence variation within these genomic regions may have an impact on the oncogenic potential of the virus. Sequence variation in the LCR and in the E2 gene of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) isolates originating from cervical cancer patients from East Hungary was studied. In 30 samples, sequencing and/or single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis revealed variants belonging to the European variant lineage of HPV-16. These variants differed from the reference European clone only slightly in their E2 and LCR sequences. Three samples represented variants belonging to the Asian-American group. These differed from the published reference sequence at several positions in the LCR and E2 regions. Compared to the reference clone, the LCR clones of the European isolates showed very similar transcriptional activities, while that of an Asian-American isolate had approximately 1.7-fold increased activity. Most of the increased activity of the Asian-American isolate could be ascribed to nucleotide changes found at the 3' end of the LCR (nt 7660-7890). The transcriptional transactivation potentials of the HPV-16 E2 isolates differed only slightly from each other, and the differences seemed to be independent of the taxonomic position of the isolates.


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