A quantitative and high-throughput assay of human papillomavirus DNA replication

Methods Mol Biol. 2015;1249:305-16. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4939-2013-6_23.


Replication of the human papillomavirus (HPV) double-stranded DNA genome is accomplished by the two viral proteins E1 and E2 in concert with host DNA replication factors. HPV DNA replication is an established model of eukaryotic DNA replication and a potential target for antiviral therapy. Assays to measure the transient replication of HPV DNA in transfected cells have been developed, which rely on a plasmid carrying the viral origin of DNA replication (ori) together with expression vectors for E1 and E2. Replication of the ori-plasmid is typically measured by Southern blotting or PCR analysis of newly replicated DNA (i.e., DpnI digested DNA) several days post-transfection. Although extremely valuable, these assays have been difficult to perform in a high-throughput and quantitative manner. Here, we describe a modified version of the transient DNA replication assay that circumvents these limitations by incorporating a firefly luciferase expression cassette in cis of the ori. Replication of this ori-plasmid by E1 and E2 results in increased levels of firefly luciferase activity that can be accurately quantified and normalized to those of Renilla luciferase expressed from a control plasmid, thus obviating the need for DNA extraction, digestion, and analysis. We provide a detailed protocol for performing the HPV type 31 DNA replication assay in a 96-well plate format suitable for small-molecule screening and EC50 determinations. The quantitative and high-throughput nature of the assay should greatly facilitate the study of HPV DNA replication and the identification of inhibitors thereof.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Replication* / drug effects
  • High-Throughput Screening Assays / methods*
  • Human papillomavirus 31 / drug effects
  • Human papillomavirus 31 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydroxyurea / pharmacology
  • Luciferases / metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Virus Replication / drug effects
  • Virus Replication / physiology*


  • Luciferases
  • Hydroxyurea