Papillomaviridae is an ancient taxonomic family of non-enveloped DNA viruses, collectively known as papillomaviruses. Several hundred species of papillomaviruses, traditionally referred to as "types", have been identified infecting all carefully inspected mammals, but also other amniotes such as birds, snakes and turtles. Infection by most papillomavirus types, depending on the type, is either asymptomatic (e.g. most Beta-PVs) or causes small benign tumors, known as papillomas or warts (e.g. human papillomavirus1, HPV6 or HPV11). Papillomas caused by some types, however, such as human papillomaviruses 16 and 18, carry a risk of becoming cancerous.
Papillomaviruses are usually considered as highly host- and tissue-tropic, and are thought to rarely be transmitted between species. Papillomaviruses replicate exclusively in the basal layer of the body surface tissues. All known papillomavirus types infect a particular body surface, typically the skin or mucosal epithelium of the genitals, anus, mouth, or airways. For example, human papillomavirus (HPV) type 1 tends to infect the soles of the feet, and HPV type 2 the palms of the hands, where they may cause warts. Additionally, there are descriptions of the presence papillomavirus DNA in the blood and in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells.
Papillomaviruses were first identified in the early 20th century, when it was shown that skin warts, or papillomas, could be transmitted between individuals by a filterable infectious agent. In 1935 Francis Peyton Rous, who had previously demonstrated the existence of a cancer-causing sarcoma virus in chickens, went on to show that a papillomavirus could cause skin cancer in infected rabbits. This was the first demonstration that a virus could cause cancer in mammals.
Read more about Papillomaviridae: Taxonomy of Papillomaviruses, Animal Papillomaviruses, Evolution, Structure, Tissue Specificity, Laboratory Study, Genetic Organization, Technical Discussion of Papillomavirus Gene Functions