Visual Universitätsmedizin Mainz

25. Juli 2018

A human endogenous Tumor blocker discovered

Scientists of the Mainz University Medical Center have discovered novel properties of a human protein which acts as an inhibitor of virus infections and cancer

Image : MYPOP-localization (magenta) in a skin cell; growth of HPV cancer cells without (top) and with MYPOP (bottom); tissue section of an HPV tumor (green = MYPOP, blue = cell nucleus)

Scientists of the University Medical Center Mainz have identified a novel protein involved in the human immune response: MYPOP – so far relatively unknown. MYPOP inhibits the formation of new viral components and acts as a tumor suppressor by blocking the proliferation of tumor cells. These findings were made during investigations of the cellular infection with Human Papillomaviruses (HPV). Oncogenic HPV-types are an important cause of cervical cancers and other cancer types affecting anogenital, mouth and throat areas. The results of the discovery can be found in the current issue of ‘Oncogene’, a journal of the Nature Publishing Group.

The research team led by PD Dr. Luise Florin from the Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene (Mainz) studies the mechanisms that are necessary for an infection with Human Papillomaviruses (HPV). HPV type 16 is the most dangerous causative agent of cervical cancer.

In their most recent study, the scientists have discovered that MYPOP, a Myb-related transcription factor, has important antiviral properties: It is able to detect invading viruses and their DNA molecules. MYPOP binds a viral capsid protein and the control region of the viral DNA. Consequently, the expression of the viral genome is reduced, resulting in a lowered infection rate of mucous cells. Therefore, the scientists of the Mainz University Medical Center have identified a novel component of the intrinsic cellular immune response, called a restriction factor.

Moreover, the study showed, that all tested HPV-tumor cell lines lack MYPOP, which is usually present in high concentrations within healthy epithelial cells. A viral, cancer-inducing protein is responsible for the downregulation of MYPOP in infected cells. The addition of MYPOP to these cells resulted in a loss of the tumor cell-associated ability of uncontrolled cell proliferation. These observations could also be made in other tumor cell lines. Thus, MYPOP possesses antiviral and tumor suppressing properties. 

Further research is needed to determine whether MYPOP can be of use in the therapy of virus infections and/or cancer.

Informations about the original publication:
“The Myb-related protein MYPOP is a novel intrinsic host restriction factor of oncogenic human papillomaviruses”; Elena Wüstenhagen, Fatima Boukhallouk, Inka Negwer, Krishnaraj Rajalingam, Frank Stubenrauch and Luise Florin; Oncogene;;


Image: left: MYPOP-localization (magenta) in a skin cell; middle: growth of HPV cancer cells without (top) and with MYPOP (bottom); right: tissue section of an HPV tumor (green = MYPOP, blue = cell nucleus)
Source: Mainz University Medical Center 


PD Dr. Luise Florin
University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene
Augustusplatz, 55101 Mainz, Germany
Phone: +49 (0) 6131 179083
Fax: +49 (0) 6131 179021

Press Contact
Barbara Reinke
Corporate Communications
Mainz University Medical Center
Langenbeckstr. 1
55131 Mainz, GERMANY
phone +49 6131 17-7428
fax +49 6131 17-3496


About the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
The University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz is the only medical facility providing supramaximal care in Rhineland-Palatinate while also functioning as an internationally recognized hub of medical science. It has more than 60 clinics, institutes, and departments that collaborate across the various disciplines. Highly specialized patient care, research, and teaching form an integral whole at the Mainz University Medical Center. Approximately 3,300 students are trained in medicine and dentistry in Mainz. With its approximately 7,500 personnel, the Mainz University Medical Center is also one of the largest employers in the region and an important driver of growth and innovation. Further information is available online at