Study in Clinical Cancer Research implicates SNPs in two locations of the TAP gene.

Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have discovered that particular polymorphisms appear to protect women against cervical cancer, even when the women are infected with the HPV types most likely to lead to cervical cancer.

Women who possess variations at either of two locations of the transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP) genes are less than half as likely to develope high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN), they found.

“Some people are better able than others to mount an immune response that suppresses their HPV infection,” says Mark H. Einstein, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics & gynecology and women’s health at Einstein. “We suspected that this advantage was probably due to variations in genes that play key roles in the body’s immune response.” They thus focused on TAP, which is known to be crucial to the immune system’s ability to recognize viruses and eliminate them from the body.

The team recruited 480 women and divided them into two groups: those with high-grade CIN and a control group of women who had tested positive for HPV but had not developed high-grade CIN. The researchers took cells from the women and looked for genetic differences between the two groups. Those with the TAP variations were better able to assemble MHC-I proteins, which HPV normally decreases through down-regulation of TAP1 levels.

The article appeared in February in Clinical Cancer Research.

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