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Variations in HPV LCR/E6/E7 have been shown to be associated with the viral persistence and cervical cancer development. So far, there are few reports about the polymorphisms of the HPV-58 LCR/E6/E7 sequences in Southwest China. This study aims to characterize the gene polymorphisms of the HPV-58 LCR/E6/E7 sequences in women of Southwest China, and assess the effects of variations on the immune recognition of viral E6 and E7 antigens.
Twelve LCR/E6/E7 of the HPV-58 isolates were amplified and sequenced. A neighbor-joining phylogenetic tree was constructed by MEGA 7.0, followed by the secondary structure prediction of the related proteins using PSIPRED v3.3. The selection pressure acting on the HPV-58 E6 and E7 coding regions was estimated by Bayes empirical Bayes analysis of PAML 4.8. Meanwhile, the MHC class-I and II binding peptides were predicted by the ProPred-I server and ProPred server. The transcription factor binding sites in the HPV-58 LCR were analyzed using the JASPAR database.
Twenty nine SNPs (20 in the LCR, 3 in the E6, 6 in the E7) were identified at 27 nucleotide sites across the HPV-58 LCR/E6/E7. From the most variable to the least variable, the nucleotide variations were LCR > E7 > E6. The combinations of all the SNPs resulted in 11 unique sequences, which were clustered into the A lineage (7 belong to A1, 2 belong to A2, and 2 belong to A3). An insertion (TGTCAGTTTCCT) was found between the nucleotide sites 7280 and 7281 in 2 variants, and a deletion (TTTAT) was found between 7429 and 7433 in 1 variant. The most common non-synonymous substitution V77A in the E7 was observed in the sequences encoding the α-helix. 63G in the E7 was determined to be the only one positively selected site in the HPV-58 E6/E7 sequences. Six non-synonymous amino acid substitutions (including S71F and K93 N in the E6, and T20I, G41R, G63S/D, and V77A in the E7) were affecting multiple putative epitopes for both CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells. In the LCR, C7265G and C7266T were the most variable sites and were the potential binding sites for the transcription factor SOX10.
These results provide an insight into the intrinsic geographical relatedness and biological differences of the HPV-58 variants, and contribute to further research on the HPV-58 epidemiology, carcinogenesis, and therapeutic vaccine development.