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Keywords:

  • human papillomavirus;
  • retinoblastoma;
  • virus;
  • causation

Abstract

Retinoblastomas occur as the consequence of inactivation of the tumor suppressor retinoblastoma protein (pRb), classically upon biallelic inactivation of the RB1 gene locus. Recently, human papillomavirus (HPV) genomic DNA has been detected in retinoblastomas. To investigate the possibility that oncoproteins encoded by pRb-inactivating DNA tumor viruses play a role in the pathogenesis of human retinoblastoma, 40 fresh-frozen tumors were analyzed for the presence of HPV, adenovirus (HAdV) and polyomavirus (BKV, JCV and SV40) genomic DNA sequences by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Tumors were screened for genetic and epigenetic alterations in all 27 exons of the RB1 gene locus and promoter by exonic copy number detection, sequencing and methylation-specific PCR of the promoter region. Retinoblastoma tumors from children with bilateral familial (n = 1), bilateral nonfamilial (n = 1) and unilateral nonfamilial (n = 38) disease were analyzed. Inactivating modifications to the RB1 gene locus were identified on both the alleles in 27 tumors, one allele in 8, and neither allele in 5 cases. A median of over 107,000 tumor cells were analyzed for viral genomic DNA in each PCR reaction. All tumor samples were negative for 37 HPV types, 51 HAdV types, BKV and JCV genomic sequences. Very low copy number (0.2–260 copies per 100,000 tumor cells) SV40 genomic DNA detected in 8 of 39 samples was demonstrated to be consistent with an artifact of plasmid-derived SV40. In contrast to recent reports, we obtained substantial quantitative evidence indicating that neither HPV nor any other pRb-inactivating human DNA tumor viruses play a role in the development of retinoblastoma, regardless of RB1 genotype. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.