Mathematical Biology Seminar

Karl Münger
Department of Developmental, Molecular & Chemical Biology, Tufts University

Human Papillomaviruses - From Warts to Cancer!

Monday, August 17, 2015, at 3:05pm
JWB 335

Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small viruses with ~8,000 bp double stranded, circular genomes. There are over 200 HPV types and they all infect epithelial cells. While most HPV infections are subclinical others cause overt lesions. Most HPV associated lesions are benign but some HPVs cause lesions that have a propensity for malignant progression and approximately 10% of all human cancers worldwide are caused by HPV infections. HPV associated cancers represent non-productive infections, i.e. viral proteins are synthesized but no infectious virus is produced. HPV associated cancers retain expression of two viral genes, E6 and E7, and continued expression of these two viral genes is necessary for cancer cell proliferation and survival. E6 and E7 encode small, non-enzymatic proteins of ~150 and ~100 amino acids, respectively. These viral proteins exert their oncogenic activities by associating with and functionally reprogramming critical cellular regulator nodes. This seminar summarizes some of the known biological activities of E6 and E7 and how they may contribute to human cancer formation.