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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 2009 Jun;73(2):348-70. doi: 10.1128/MMBR.00033-08.

The EVER proteins as a natural barrier against papillomaviruses: a new insight into the pathogenesis of human papillomavirus infections.

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Institut Pasteur, Unité de Génétique, Papillomavirus et Cancer Humain, F-75015 Paris, France.


Infections by human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the most frequently occurring sexually transmitted diseases. The crucial role of genital oncogenic HPV in cervical carcinoma development is now well established. In contrast, the role of cutaneous HPV in skin cancer development remains a matter of debate. Cutaneous beta-HPV strains show an amazing ubiquity. The fact that a few oncogenic genotypes cause cancers in patients suffering from epidermodysplasia verruciformis is in sharp contrast to the unapparent course of infection in the general population. Our recent investigations revealed that a natural barrier exists in humans, which protects them against infection with these papillomaviruses. A central role in the function of this HPV-specific barrier is played by a complex of the zinc-transporting proteins EVER1, EVER2, and ZnT-1, which maintain cellular zinc homeostasis. Apparently, the deregulation of the cellular zinc balance emerges as an important step in the life cycles not only of cutaneous but also of genital HPVs, although the latter viruses have developed a mechanism by which they can break the barrier and impose a zinc imbalance. Herein, we present a previously unpublished list of the cellular partners of EVER proteins, which points to future directions concerning investigations of the mechanisms of action of the EVER/ZnT-1 complex. We also present a general overview of the pathogenesis of HPV infections, taking into account the latest discoveries regarding the role of cellular zinc homeostasis in the HPV life cycle. We propose a potential model for the mechanism of function of the anti-HPV barrier.

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