Steroid hormone receptors have been shown to bind to response elements in the upstream regulatory region (URR) of human papillomavirus (HPV) in a ligand-dependent manner to affect viral promoter activity. To better understand how the enhancer activity of the URR differs between high risk HPV types, we chose to compare the basal and glucocorticoid-dependent activities of the URRs of HPV18 and HPV31. We found that the URR of HPV18 is a stronger enhancer than the URR of HPV31 in six different cell lines of epithelial origin. Furthermore, the activity of the URR of HPV31 was not inducible by the synthetic glucocorticoid dexamethasone (dex) in any cell line tested, while the URR of HPV18 was dex-inducible in the majority of these lines. These studies indicate significant differences between the URRs of high risk HPV types.
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