Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are agents of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in females and males. Precise data about the presence, mechanism of infection and clinical significance of HPV in the male reproductive tract and especially in sperm are not available. Here we show that HPV can infect human sperm, it localizes at the equatorial region of sperm head through interaction between the HPV capsid protein L1 and syndecan-1. Sperm transfected with HPV E6/E7 genes and sperm exposed to HPV L1 capsid protein are capable to penetrate the oocyte and transfer the virus into oocytes, in which viral genes are then activated and transcribed. These data show that sperm might function as vectors for HPV transfer into the oocytes, and open new perspectives on the role of HPV infection in males and are particularly intriguing in relation to assisted reproduction techniques
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