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Human papillomavirus 16 DNA immortalizes two types of normal human epithelial cells of the uterine cervix.

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  • Research Article
  • Medicine


Premalignant cervical lesions occur at the squamo-columnar junction and in endocervical epithelium and squamous ectocervical epithelium, in descending order of frequency. However, previously only ectocervical cells have been clearly shown to be immortalized in vitro by the oncogenic human papillomaviruses (HPVs). This report describes the immortalization of normal human ecto- and endocervical epithelial cells by the intact HPV 16 genome. Ectocervical epithelial cells (HEC) became immortalized (HEC-16) without crisis while endocervical cells (HEN) were immortalized (HEN-16) after undergoing crisis. HEN-16 and HEC-16 contained integrated HPV 16 DNA, expressed E6 and E7 mRNA, and were aneuploid and nontumorigenic. They also expressed cytokeratins in a pattern similar to their distinct normal parental cells. These results suggest that both squamous and simple epithelial cells of uterine cervix are targets for immortalization by HPV 16.

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