Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

PLoS One


Alphapapillomavirus; Animals; Female; Humans; Ligands; Male; Membrane Proteins; Mice; Neoplasms; Precancerous Conditions


Human papilloma virus positive (HPV+) tumors represent a large proportion of anal, vulvar, vaginal, cervical and head and neck squamous carcinomas (HNSCC) and late stage invasive disease is thought to originate from a premalignant state. Cyclic dinucleotides that activate STimulator of INterferon Genes (STING) have been shown to cause rapid regression of a range of advanced tumors. We aimed to investigate STING ligands as a novel treatment for papilloma. We tested therapies in a spontaneous mouse model of papilloma of the face and anogenital region that histologically resembles human HPV-associated papilloma. We demonstrate that STING ligands cause rapid regression of papilloma, associated with T cell infiltration, and are significantly more effective than Imiquimod, a current immunotherapy for papilloma. In humans, we show that STING is expressed in the basal layer of normal skin and lost during keratinocyte differentiation. We found STING was expressed in all HPV-associated cervical and anal dysplasia and was strongly expressed in the cancer cells of HPV+ HNSCC but not in HPV-unrelated HNSCC. We found no strong association between STING expression and progressive disease in non-HPV oral dysplasia and oral pre-malignancies that are not HPV-related. These data demonstrate that STING is expressed in basal cells of the skin and is retained in HPV+ pre-malignancies and advanced cancers, but not in HPV-unrelated HNSCC. However, using a murine HNSCC model that does not express STING, we demonstrate that STING ligands are an effective therapy regardless of expression of STING by the cancer cells.

Clinical Institute



Earle A. Chiles Research Institute



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