The study of the human pathogen papillomaviruses (HPVs) has been hampered by the inability to propagate the virus in tissue culture. The addition of 12-O-tetradecanoyl phorbol-13-acetate to the media of organotypic (raft) cultures increased expression of physiological markers of keratinocyte differentiation and concomitantly induced production of virions. Capsid production was detected in differentiated suprabasal cells. Virions approximately 54 nanometers in size were observed by electron microscopy in raft tissue cross sections in the suprabasal layers. Virions purified through isopycnic gradients were found to contain type 31b DNA and exhibited an icosahedral shape similar to that of papillomaviruses found in clinical samples.
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