The new skin cell culture technique enables high infection rates of keratinocytes by HPV16, a human papillomavirus (HPV) type that is particularly strongly linked with cancer, report researchers.
According to the researchers, most HPV infections cause no symptoms, but certain types of HPV are associated with cervical, throat and other cancers.
HPV infects skin cells known as keratinocytes before they have fully matured, or differentiated, and are still dividing into new cells. During the final stages of differentiation, uninfected cells cease division, but HPV makes infected cells keep dividing, the researchers said.
They found that high infection rates could be achieved by incubating HPV16 with extra cellular matrix materials in a dish, and then seeding it with keratinocytes.
They analysed RNA from infected cells at different time points to determine which HPV genes were expressed and when.
They also infected cells with mutant HPV16 viruses lacking different genes, revealing which viral proteins were essential to establish infection.
The researchers included Malgorzata Bienkowska-Haba, Timothy R. Keiffer among few others from the Louisiana State University in the US.