Human papillomaviruses: diversity, infection and host interactions

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2022 Feb;20(2):95-108. doi: 10.1038/s41579-021-00617-5. Epub 2021 Sep 14.


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are an ancient and highly successful group of viruses that have co-evolved with their host to replicate in specific anatomical niches of the stratified epithelia. They replicate persistently in dividing cells, hijack key host cellular processes to manipulate the cellular environment and escape immune detection, and produce virions in terminally differentiated cells that are shed from the host. Some HPVs cause benign, proliferative lesions on the skin and mucosa, and others are associated with the development of cancer. However, most HPVs cause infections that are asymptomatic and inapparent unless the immune system becomes compromised. To date, the genomes of almost 450 distinct HPV types have been isolated and sequenced. In this Review, I explore the diversity, evolution, infectious cycle, host interactions and disease association of HPVs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alphapapillomavirus / classification
  • Alphapapillomavirus / genetics*
  • Alphapapillomavirus / pathogenicity*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications
  • Papillomavirus Infections / pathology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / virology*