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Investigation of the diversity of human papillomavirus 16 variants and L1 antigenic regions relevant for the prevention of human papillomavirus-related oropharyngeal cancer in Japan

Published:April 28, 2022DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.anl.2022.04.006

      Abstract

      Objective

      This study aimed to investigate the distribution of human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16) variants that contribute to the development of HPV-related oropharyngeal carcinoma (HPV-OPC) in the Japanese population and to evaluate genetic variations in the sequence encoding the L1 antigen region of the viral outer shell that is targeted by existing vaccines and is relevant for designing a prevention strategy to combat the exponential increase in HPV-OPC cases in Japan.

      Methods

      Seventy Japanese HPV-OPC patients treated at Tohoku University Hospital were included in the study. DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue samples. Polymerase chain reaction and direct nucleotide sequencing were performed to determine the nucleotide polymorphisms necessary for the classification of HPV16 variants and to assess genetic diversity in the HPV16 L1 antigen region, including the BC, DE, EF, FG, and HI loops.

      Results

      The most common variant of HPV16 was the A4 sublineage (88.6%), conventionally called the Asian type, followed by the A1/2/3 (10.0%) sublineage, classified as the European type. The only nonsynonymous substitution detected in the L1 antigen loop region was p.N181T in the EF loop, which was found in 28/70 (40%) cases. In contrast, no nonsynonymous substitutions were observed in the DE, FG, and HI loops, which are particularly important regions in the antigen loop targeted by existing HPV vaccines.

      Conclusion

      The most common HPV16 variant in Japanese HPV-OPC patients was the A4 subtype. The L1 antigen region is highly conserved, suggesting sufficient efficacy of existing HPV vaccines. These findings provide important information that will aid in the design of an HPV16 infection control strategy using existing HPV vaccines to prevent the spread of HPV-OPC in Japan.

      Keywords

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