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Version 2. F1000Res. 2019 Jul 2 [revised 2019 Oct 1];8:1000. doi: 10.12688/f1000research.19590.2. eCollection 2019.

A unique insert in the genomes of high-risk human papillomaviruses with a predicted dual role in conferring oncogenic risk.

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National Center for Biotechnology Information, National Institutes of Health, USA, Bethesda, Maryland, 20814, USA.


The differences between high risk and low risk human papillomaviruses (HR-HPV and LR-HPV, respectively) that contribute to the tumorigenic potential of HR-HPV are not well understood but can be expected to involve the HPV oncoproteins, E6 and E7. We combine genome comparison and machine learning techniques to identify a previously unnoticed insert near the 3'-end of the E6 oncoprotein gene that is unique to HR-HPV. Analysis of the insert sequence suggests that it exerts a dual effect, by creating a PDZ domain-binding motif at the C-terminus of E6, as well as eliminating the overlap between the E6 and E7 coding regions in HR-HPV. We show that, as a result, the insert might enable coupled termination-reinitiation of the E6 and E7 genes, supported by motifs complementary to the human 18S rRNA. We hypothesize that the added functionality of E6 and positive regulation of E7 expression jointly account for the tumorigenic potential of HR-HPV.


Papillomaviruses; cervical cancer; machine learning; oncogenic risk; translation terminatio-reinitiation

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