Human papillomavirus life cycle: active and latent phases

Semin Cancer Biol. 1999 Dec;9(6):379-86. doi: 10.1006/scbi.1999.0141.


Productive infection by human papillomaviruses (HPV) is dependent upon the differentiation of the host cell. Following entry into basal epithelial cells, HPV genomes are established as autonomous replicating extrachromosomal elements and a low level of HPV expression occurs. Upon differentiation of infected cells, productive replication and expression of capsid genes is induced resulting in the synthesis of progeny virions. Evidence from immunosuppressed patients as well as individuals with recurring laryngeal papillomatosis suggest that certain HPV types can exist in a latent state. In latently infected cells, HPV DNA may be present but no differentiation-dependent synthesis of virions occurs. The presence of a latent state for HPVs can be a determining factor in the effectiveness of therapeutic methods for treatment of infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Papillomaviridae / genetics
  • Papillomaviridae / physiology*
  • Virus Latency*