The life cycle of human papillomavirus (HPV) is dependent on the differentiation state of its host cell. HPV genomes are maintained as low-copy episomes in basal epithelial cells and amplified to thousands of copies per cell in differentiated layers. Replication of high-risk HPVs requires the activation of the ataxia telangiectasia-mutated (ATM) and ATM and Rad3-related (ATR) DNA repair pathways. The Fanconi anemia (FA) pathway is a part of the DNA damage response and mediates cross talk between the ATM and ATR pathways. Our studies show that HPV activates the FA pathway, leading to the accumulation of a key regulatory protein, FANCD2, in large nuclear foci. These HPV-dependent foci colocalize with a distinct population of DNA repair proteins, including ATM components ÷H2AX and BRCA1, but infrequently with p-SMC1, which is required for viral genome amplification in differentiated cells. Furthermore, FANCD2 is found at viral replication foci, where it is preferentially recruited to viral genomes compared to cellular chromosomes and is required for maintenance of HPV episomes in undifferentiated cells. These findings identify FANCD2 as an important regulator of HPV replication and provide insight into the role of the DNA damage response in the differentiation-dependent life cycle of HPV. IMPORTANCE High-risk human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the etiological agents of cervical cancer and are linked to the development of many other anogenital and oropharyngeal cancers. Identification of host cellular pathways involved in regulating the viral life cycle may be helpful in identifying treatments for HPV lesions. Mutations in genes of the Fanconi anemia (FA) DNA repair pathway lead to genomic instability in patients and a predisposition to HPV-associated malignancies. Our studies demonstrate that FA pathway component FANCD2 is recruited to HPV DNA, associates with members of the ATM DNA repair pathway, and is essential for the maintenance of viral episomes in basal epithelial cells. Disruption of the FA pathway may result in increased integration events and a higher incidence of HPV-related cancer. Our study identifies new links between HPV and the FA pathway that may help to identify new therapeutic targets for the treatment of existing HPV infections and cancers.
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