Human Papillomavirus Infections and Cancer Stem Cells of Tumors from the Uterine Cervix

Jacqueline López 1, Graciela Ruíz 2, Jorge Organista-Nava 3, Patricio Gariglio 2, Alejandro García-Carrancá*, 4
1 Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias Bioquímicas, Facultad de Química, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), Mexico City, Mexico
2 Departamento de Genética y Biología Molecular, Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional (CINVESTAV del IPN), Mexico City, Mexico
3 Programa de Doctorado en Ciencias Biomédicas, Instituto de Fisiología Celular (IFC), UNAM, Mexico City, Mexico
4 Unidad de Investigación Biomédica en Cáncer, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, UNAM & División de Investigación Básica, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología (INCan), Secretaría de Salud (SSA), Mexico City, Mexico

© López et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

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* Address correspondence to this author at the Laboratory of Virus & Cancer, Instituto Nacional de Cancerología, Av. San Fernando No. 22, Sección XVI, Tlalpan, 14080, México, D.F., México; Tel: (+52) (55) 5628 0433; E-mail:


Different rate of development of productive infections (as low grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasias), or high grade lesions and cervical malignant tumors associated with infections of the Transformation zone (TZ) by High-Risk Human Papillomavirus (HR-HPV), could suggest that different epithelial host target cells could exist. If there is more than one target cell, their differential infection by HR-HPV may play a central role in the development of cervical cancer. Recently, the concept that cancer might arise from a rare population of cells with stem cell-like properties has received support in several solid tumors, including cervical cancer (CC). According to the cancer stem cell (CSC) hypothesis, CC can now be considered a disease in which stem cells of the TZ are converted to cervical cancer stem cells by the interplay between HR-HPV viral oncogenes and cellular alterations that are thought to be finally responsible for tumor initiation and maintenance. Current studies of CSC could provide novel insights regarding tumor initiation and progression, their relation with viral proteins and interplay with the tumor micro-environment. This review will focus on the biology of cervical cancer stem cells, which might contribute to our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for cervical tumor development.

Keywords: Cancer stem cells, cervical cancer, human papillomavirus, squamous cell carcinoma, transformation zone..