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In the present study, we aim to evaluate the application potential of a combined assay of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) and E6 oncoprotein in screening the virus-infected keratinocytes with higher telomerase activity in human papillomaviruses (HPV) 16- and 18-related bowenoid papulosis (BP). HPV16/18 DNA in BP (n = 123) was identified by in situ hybridization, the expression of hTERT and E6 in HPV16/18-related BP (n = 68) was determined by immunohistochemistry. We demonstrated that the expression of hTERT correlated well with that of E6 oncoprotein in HPV16/18-related BP lesions (Spearman rho = 0.868, P < 0.01). Furthermore, the majority of keratinocytes with positive nuclear staining for hTERT or E6 in the consecutive sections of each HPV16/18-related BP lesion showed nuclear paleomorphism or nuclear mitosis. In conclusion, we suggested that a combined assay of hTERT and E6 oncoprotein can be used to screen the HPV-infected keratinocytes with higher telomerase activity in HPV16-related and HPV18-related BP lesions.

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