Cellular transformation by human papillomaviruses

Human papillomaviruses can give rise to a range of cancers, but not all HPVs are equal! The oncogenic potential of papillomaviruses (PVs) has been appreciated since the 1930s yet the mechanisms of virus-mediated cellular transformation are still being revealed. Reasons for this include:

  • the oncoproteins are multifunctional
  • there is an ever-growing list of cellular interacting proteins
  • more than one cellular protein may bind to a given region of the oncoprotein
  • there is only limited information on the proteins encoded by the corresponding non-oncogenic papillomaviruses

The perspective of this review is to contrast the activities of the viral E6 and E7 proteins encoded by the oncogenic human PVs (termed high-risk HPVs) to those encoded by their non-oncogenic counterparts (termed low-risk HPVs) in an attempt to sort out viral life cycle-related functions from oncogenic functions. The review emphasizes lessons learned from the cell culture studies of the HPVs causing mucosal/genital tract cancers.

Cellular transformation by human papillomaviruses: Lessons learned by comparing high- and low-risk viruses. (2012) Virology 424(2): 77-98

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