Recently, several improvements of traditional PCR techniques have facilitated the amplification of significantly longer DNA target sequences. Here we report an improved method for amplification of entire human papillomavirus (HPV) genomes. Using rTth DNA polymerase, XL (Perkin-Elmer, Foster City, CA), and the accompanying XL PCR buffer system, we have successfully amplified 8-kb genomes from ~10 copies of input reference strain HPV16 DNA. This long PCR (LPCR) method was subsequently used to amplify the entire HPV16 genome from clinical specimens. The fidelity with which the rTth DNA polymerase XL amplifies target sequences under our chosen amplification conditions was estimated by partial sequencing of cloned LPCR products generated from cloned reference strain HPV16 genomes. A region spanning the HPV16 E6, E7, and part of the E1 open reading frames (ORFs) was sequenced in 29 clones. A total of 33 nucleotide substitutions were observed in the 23.5 kb sequenced. This corresponds to an error frequency of ~one error per 700 bases. Finally, LPCR methods were used to amplify entire, novel HPV genomes from clinical specimens. LPCR primer pairs were designed for amplification of seven potentially novel HPV types. Amplicons of ~8 kb were generated from five of the seven HPV types targeted. One of the LPCR-generated novel genomes, CP141, was subsequently cloned and a partial sequence was determined.
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