Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a significant health burden and leading cause of virus-induced cancers. However, studies have been hampered due to restricted tropism that makes production and purification of high titer virus problematic. This issue has been overcome by developing alternative HPV production methods such as virus-like particles (VLPs), which are devoid of a native viral genome. Structural studies have been limited in resolution due to the heterogeneity, fragility, and stability of the VLP capsids. The mouse papillomavirus (MmuPV1) presented here has provided the opportunity to study a native papillomavirus in the context of a common laboratory animal. Using cryo EM to solve the structure of MmuPV1, we achieved 3.3 Å resolution with a local symmetry refinement method that defined smaller, symmetry related subparticles. The resulting high-resolution structure allowed us to build the MmuPV1 asymmetric unit for the first time and identify putative L2 density. We also used our program ISECC to quantify capsid flexibility, which revealed that capsomers move as rigid bodies connected by flexible linkers. The MmuPV1 flexibility was comparable to that of a HPV VLP previously characterized. The resulting MmuPV1 structure is a promising step forward in the study of papillomavirus and will provide a framework for con-tinuing biochemical, genetic, and biophysical research for papillomaviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2023
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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