Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Biol Evol. 2017 Jan;34(1):4-19. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msw214. Epub 2016 Oct 7.

Transmission between Archaic and Modern Human Ancestors during the Evolution of the Oncogenic Human Papillomavirus 16.

Author information

Infections and Cancer Laboratory, Cancer Epidemiology Research Programme, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain
Unit of Biomarkers and Susceptibility, Bellvitge Institute of Biomedical Research (IDIBELL), Barcelona, Spain.
Infections and Cancer Laboratory, Cancer Epidemiology Research Programme, Catalan Institute of Oncology, Barcelona, Spain.
Virology Laboratory, Institute of Tropical Medicine, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
MIVEGEC (UMR CNRS 5290, IRD 224, UM), National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Montpellier, France.


Every human suffers through life a number of papillomaviruses (PVs) infections, most of them asymptomatic. A notable exception are persistent infections by Human papillomavirus 16 (HPV16), the most oncogenic infectious agent for humans and responsible for most infection-driven anogenital cancers. Oncogenic potential is not homogeneous among HPV16 lineages, and genetic variation within HPV16 exhibits some geographic structure. However, an in-depth analysis of the HPV16 evolutionary history was still wanting. We have analyzed extant HPV16 diversity and compared the evolutionary and phylogeographical patterns of humans and of HPV16. We show that codivergence with modern humans explains at most 30% of the present viral geographical distribution. The most explanatory scenario suggests that ancestral HPV16 already infected ancestral human populations and that viral lineages co-diverged with the hosts in parallel with the split between archaic Neanderthal-Denisovans and ancestral modern human populations, generating the ancestral HPV16A and HPV16BCD viral lineages, respectively. We propose that after out-of-Africa migration of modern human ancestors, sexual transmission between human populations introduced HPV16A into modern human ancestor populations. We hypothesize that differential coevolution of HPV16 lineages with different but closely related ancestral human populations and subsequent host-switch events in parallel with introgression of archaic alleles into the genomes of modern human ancestors may be largely responsible for the present-day differential prevalence and association with cancers for HPV16 variants.


Hominin evolution; divergence; evolutionary medicine; host-switch; human papillomavirus; infection and cancer; sexually transmitted infection; variant; virus-host coevolution

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Silverchair Information Systems Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center