Disruption of CTCF-YY1-dependent looping of the human papillomavirus genome activates differentiation-induced viral oncogene transcription

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Ieisha Pentland
  • Marius Cotic
  • Kelli-Jo Davies
  • C. David Wood
  • Ian Groves
  • Megan Burley
  • Nicolas Coleman
  • Michelle West
  • Jo Parish

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • School of Life Sciences, University of Sussex
  • Univ Cambridge
  • University of Cambridge


The complex life cycle of oncogenic human papillomavirus (HPV) initiates in undifferentiated basal epithelial keratinocytes where expression of the E6 and E7 oncogenes is restricted. Upon epithelial differentiation, E6/E7 transcription is increased through unknown mechanisms to drive cellular proliferation required to support virus replication. We report that the chromatin organising CCCTC-binding factor (CTCF) promotes the formation of a chromatin loop in the HPV genome that epigenetically represses viral enhancer activity controlling E6/E7 expression. CTCF-dependent looping is dependent on the expression of the CTCF-associated Yin Yang 1 (YY1) transcription factor and polycomb repressor complex recruitment resulting in trimethylation of histone H3 at lysine 27. We show that viral oncogene upregulation during cellular differentiation results from YY1 downregulation, disruption of viral genome looping and a loss of epigenetic repression of viral enhancer activity. Our data therefore reveal a key role for CTCF-YY1-dependent looping in the HPV life cycle and identify a regulatory mechanism that could be disrupted in HPV carcinogenesis.


Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2005752
Number of pages28
JournalPLoS Biology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018