Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Papillomavirus E5: the smallest oncoprotein with many functions

Aldo Venuti1, Francesca Paolini1, Lubna Nasir2, Annunziata Corteggio3, Sante Roperto3, Maria S Campo4 and Giuseppe Borzacchiello3*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of Virology, Regina Elena Cancer Institute, Rome, Italy

2 Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

3 Department of Pathology and Animal health, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy

4 University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

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Molecular Cancer 2011, 10:140  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-10-140

Published: 11 November 2011


Papillomaviruses (PVs) are established agents of human and animal cancers. They infect cutaneous and mucous epithelia. High Risk (HR) Human PVs (HPVs) are consistently associated with cancer of the uterine cervix, but are also involved in the etiopathogenesis of other cancer types. The early oncoproteins of PVs: E5, E6 and E7 are known to contribute to tumour progression. While the oncogenic activities of E6 and E7 are well characterised, the role of E5 is still rather nebulous. The widespread causal association of PVs with cancer makes their study worthwhile not only in humans but also in animal model systems. The Bovine PV (BPV) system has been the most useful animal model in understanding the oncogenic potential of PVs due to the pivotal role of its E5 oncoprotein in cell transformation. This review will highlight the differences between HPV-16 E5 (16E5) and E5 from other PVs, primarily from BPV. It will discuss the targeting of E5 as a possible therapeutic agent.

Cell transformation; Growth factor receptors; Immune escape; Oncogene; Papillomaviruses; E5 oncoprotein; Animal models