The clinical importance of understanding the evolution of papillomaviruses

Trends Microbiol. 2010 Oct;18(10):432-8. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2010.07.008. Epub 2010 Aug 24.


A significant fraction of human cancers is associated with infections by different papillomaviruses (PVs). In other vertebrates, the presence of specific PVs is also associated with different neoplasias. The popular view of PVs conceives them to be largely static and relies on generalized assumptions that have rarely been rigorously tested such as: virus-host codivergence, strict tissue tropism and host-specificity, their very low mutation rate and the absence of recombination. Here, we want to stress the need and the medical importance of understanding the evolutionary history and present-day dynamics of PVs. Understanding the way that PV genomes have evolved will clarify the link between a given genotype and the phenotypic and clinical outcome of the corresponding viral infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Condylomata Acuminata / virology
  • Dogs
  • Epithelium / pathology
  • Epithelium / virology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genome, Viral
  • Host Specificity
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / virology*
  • Papillomaviridae / classification
  • Papillomaviridae / pathogenicity
  • Papillomaviridae / physiology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / veterinary
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Rabbits
  • Warts / virology