Integration of human papillomavirus (HPV) genomes into cellular chromatin is common in HPV-associated cancers. Integration is random, and each site is unique depending on how and where the virus integrates. We recently showed that tandemly integrated HPV16 could result in the formation of a super-enhancer-like element that drives transcription of the viral oncogenes. Here, we characterize the chromatin landscape and genomic architecture of this integration locus to elucidate the mechanisms that promoted de novo super-enhancer formation. Using next-generation sequencing and molecular combing/fiber-FISH, we show that ~26 copies of HPV16 are integrated into an intergenic region of chromosome 2p23.2, interspersed with 25 kb of amplified, flanking cellular DNA. This interspersed, co-amplified viral-host pattern is frequent in HPV-associated cancers and here we designate it as Type III integration. An abundant viral-cellular fusion transcript encoding the viral E6/E7 oncogenes is expressed from the integration locus and the chromatin encompassing both the viral enhancer and a region in the adjacent amplified cellular sequences is strongly enriched in the super-enhancer markers H3K27ac and Brd4. Notably, the peak in the amplified cellular sequence corresponds to an epithelial-cell-type specific enhancer. Thus, HPV16 integration generated a super-enhancer-like element composed of tandem interspersed copies of the viral upstream regulatory region and a cellular enhancer, to drive high levels of oncogene expression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research