Analysis of cis-elements that facilitate extrachromosomal persistence of human papillomavirus genomes

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Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are maintained latently in dividing epithelial cells as nuclear plasmids. Two virally encoded proteins, E1, a helicase, and E2, a transcription factor, are important players in replication and stable plasmid maintenance in host cells. Recent experiments in yeast have demonstrated that viral genomes retain replication and maintenance function independently of E1 and E2 [Angeletti, P.C., Kim, K., Fernandes, F.J., and Lambert, P.F. (2002). Stable replication of papillomavirus genomes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J. Virol. 76(7), 3350-8; Kim, K., Angeletti, P.C., Hassebroek, E.C., and Lambert, P.F. (2005). Identification of cis-acting elements that mediate the replication and maintenance of human papillomavirus type 16 genomes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. J. Virol. 79(10), 5933-42]. Flow cytometry studies of EGFP-reporter vectors containing subgenomic HPV fragments with or without a human ARS (hARS), revealed that six fragments located in E6-E7, E1-E2, L1, and L2 regions showed a capacity for plasmid stabilization in the absence of E1 and E2 proteins. Interestingly, four fragments within E7, the 3′ end of L2, and the 5′ end of L1 exhibited stability in plasmids that lacked an hARS, indicating that they possess both replication and maintenance functions. Two fragments lying in E1-E2 and the 3′ region of L1 were stable only in the presence of hARS, that they contained only maintenance function. Mutational analyses of HPV16-GFP reporter constructs provided evidence that genomes lacking E1 and E2 could replicate to an extent similar to wild type HPV16. Together these results support the concept that cellular factors influence HPV replication and maintenance, independently, and perhaps in conjunction with E1 and E2, suggesting a role in the persistent phase of the viral lifecycle. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.




Pittayakhajonwut, D., & Angeletti, P. C. (2008). Analysis of cis-elements that facilitate extrachromosomal persistence of human papillomavirus genomes. Virology, 374(2), 304–314.

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