Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) infect and replicate in differentiating mucosal and cutaneous epithelium. Most HPV infections are asymptomatic or cause transient benign neoplasia. However, persistent infections by oncogenic HPV types can progress to cancer. During infectious entry into host keratinocytes, HPV particles interact with many host proteins, beginning with major capsid protein L1 binding to cellular heparan sulfate and a series of enzymatic capsid modifications that promote infectious cellular entry. After utilizing the endosomal pathway to uncoat the viral genome (vDNA), the minor capsid protein L2/vDNA complex is retrograde trafficked to the Golgi, and thereafter, to the nucleus where viral transcription initiates. Post-Golgi trafficking is dependent on mitosis, with L2-dependent tethering of vDNA to mitotic chromosomes before accumulation at nuclear substructures in G1. This review summarizes the current knowledge of the HPV entry pathway, the role of cellular proteins in this process, and notes many gaps in our understanding.
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