The life cycle of the papillomaviruses is closely linked to host cell differentiation, as demonstrated by the fact that amplification of viral DNA and transcription of late genes occur only in the suprabasal cells of a differentiated epithelium. Previous studies examining the pathogenesis of papillomavirus infections have relied on the use of organotypic raft cultures or lesions from patients to examine these differentiation-dependent viral activities. In this study, we used a simple system for epithelial differentiation to study human papillomavirus (HPV) late functions. We demonstrate that the suspension of HPV-infected keratinocytes in semisoid medium containing 1.6% methylcellulose for 24 h was sufficient for the activation of the late promoter, transcription of late genes, and amplification of viral DNA. These activities were shown to be linked to and coincide with cellular differentiation. Expression of the late protein E1-E4 and amplification of viral DNA were detected in the identical set of cells after suspension in methylcellulose. This technique was also used to analyze the differentiation properties of the cells which expressed the late protein E1-E4. While induction of the spinous layer markers involucrin and transglutaminase was compatible with late promoter induction, expression of the differentiation-specific keratin-10 was shown not to be required for HPV late functions. Interestingly, while the majority of normal human keratinocytes induced filaggrin expression by 24 h, this marker of the granular layer was induced in a smaller subset of HPV type 31 (HPV-31)- positive cells at this time point. The HPV-31-positive cells which expressed filaggrin did not induce the late protein E1-E4. Use of the methylcellulose system to induce epithelial differentiation coupled with the ability to perform a genetic analysis of HPV functions by using transfection of cloned viral DNA will facilitate the study of the regulation of the papillomavirus life cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science