Methylation status of HPV16 E2-binding sites classifies subtypes of HPV-associated oropharyngeal cancers

Miriam Reuschenbach*, Christian U. Huebbers, Elena-Sophie Prigge, Justo Lorenzo Bermejo, Martin S. Kalteis, Simon F. Preuss, Inga M. C. Seuthe, Jutta Kolligs, Ernst-Jan M. Speel, Nadine Olthof, Bernd Kremer, Steffen Wagner, Jens P. Klussmann, Svetlana Vinokurova, Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND The human papillomavirus (HPV) E2 protein is a transcriptional repressor of the oncogenes E6/E7 and loss of E2 function is considered a key step in carcinogenesis. Integration of HPV into the host genome may disrupt the E2 gene. Furthermore, methylation of CpG dinucleotides in E2-binding sites (E2BSs) in the HPV upstream regulatory region may interfere with transcriptional repression of E6 and E7 by E2. The authors hypothesized that the CpG methylation status of E2BS identifies subtypes of HPV type 16 (HPV16)-associated oropharyngeal squamous cell cancers (OPSCC) in association with E2 gene integrity and viral integration. METHODSMethylation of 10 CpG dinucleotides within the upstream regulatory region, encompassing E2BSs 1, 2, 3, and 4, was quantitatively analyzed by bisulfite pyrosequencing in 57 HPV16-associated OPSCC cases. E2 status was analyzed by gene amplification and quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Viral integration was determined by integration-specific polymerase chain reaction methods. RESULTSThree subgroups with differential methylation at E2BS3 and E2BS 4 were identified: 1) complete methylation (>80%) associated with the presence of integrated HPV genomes with an intact E2 gene; 2) intermediate methylation levels (20%-80%) with predominantly episomal HPV genomes with intact E2; and 3) no methylation (
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1966-1976
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2015


  • methylation
  • human papillomavirus (HPV)
  • upstream regulatory region
  • E2-binding sites
  • oropharyngeal cancer


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