We report secondary cutaneous infections in the mouse papillomavirus (MmuPV1)/mouse model. Our previous study demonstrated that cutaneous MmuPV1 infection could spread to mucosal sites. Recently, we observed that mucosal infections could also spread to various cutaneous sites including the back, tail, muzzle and mammary tissues. The secondary site lesions were positive for viral DNA, viral capsid protein and viral particles as determined by in situ hybridization, immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy analyses, respectively. We also demonstrated differential viral production and tumour growth at different secondarily infected skin sites. For example, fewer viral particles were detected in the least susceptible back tissues when compared with those in the infected muzzle and tail, although similar amounts of viral DNA were detected. Follow-up studies demonstrated that significantly lower amounts of viral DNA were packaged in the back lesions. Lavages harvested from the oral cavity and lower genital tracts were equally infectious at both cutaneous and mucosal sites, supporting the broad tissue tropism of this papillomavirus. Importantly, two secondary skin lesions on the forearms of two mice displayed a malignant phenotype at about 9.5 months post-primary infection. Therefore, MmuPV1 induces not only dysplasia at mucosal sites such as the vagina, anus and oral cavity but also skin carcinoma at cutaneous sites. These findings demonstrate that MmuPV1 mucosal infection can be spread to cutaneous sites and suggest that the model could serve a useful role in the study of the viral life cycle and pathogenesis of papillomavirus.
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