Histone modifications in papillomavirus virion minichromosomes

Samuel S. Porter, Jennifer C. Liddle, Kristen Browne, Diana V. Pastrana, Benjamin A. Garcia, Christopher B. Buck, Matthew D. Weitzman, Alison A. McBride

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An unusual feature of papillomaviruses is that their genomes are pack-aged into virions along with host histones. Viral minichromosomes were visualized as “beads on a string” by electron microscopy in the 1970s but, to date, little is known about the posttranslational modifications of these histones. To investigate this, we analyzed the histone modifications in HPV16/18 quasivirions, wart-derived bovine papillomavirus (BPV1), and wart-derived human papillomavirus type 1 (HPV1) using quantitative mass spectrometry. The chromatin from all three virion samples had abundant posttranslational modifications (acetylation, methylation, and phos-phorylation). These histone modifications were verified by acid urea polyacrylamide electrophoresis and immunoblot analysis. Compared to matched host cell controls, the virion minichromosome was enriched in histone modifications associated with active chromatin and depleted for those commonly found in repressed chromatin. We propose that the viral minichromosome acquires specific histone modifications late in infection that are coupled to the mechanisms of viral replication, late gene expression, and encapsidation. We predict that, in turn, these same modifications benefit early stages of infection by helping to evade detection, promoting localization of the viral chromosome to beneficial regions of the nucleus, and promoting early transcription and replication.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere03274-20
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • Chromatin
  • Epigenetics
  • HPV
  • Histones
  • Papillomavirus


Dive into the research topics of 'Histone modifications in papillomavirus virion minichromosomes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this