Soyeong Park, PhD

Credentials: Cancer Biology



Research Title:  Interplay Between HIV-1 and Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Its Impact on Epithelial Cells

Project Summary: The prevalence of Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and incidence of HPV-related cancers are increased in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1-infected people. In turn, HPV-infected individuals have a higher risk for HIV-1 infection than the HPV-negative population. Although HIV-1 and HPV infect different cells, CD4+ T-cells and epithelial cells respectively, they might interact with each other since both viruses are sexually transmitted viruses. Moreover, it was suggested that a subset of epithelial cells can be infected with HIV-1 by an unconventional mechanism. Thus, Dr. Soyeong Park will explore the potential for HIV-1 and HPV interactions during co-infection or co-culture using organotypic culture consisting of primary keratinocytes infected with HPV-16, T-cells, and wild type HIV-1 virus.

First, to study the effect of HIV-1 on HPV-infected cells, Dr. Park will exploit a well-characterized stratified organotypic culture system based on HPV-16 episome-containing normal immortalized human keratinocytes (NIKS16).  She will test the effects of (1) directly infecting NIKS16 cells with HIV-1 viruses and (2) co-incubating NIKS16 cells with HIV-1 infected primary T-cells or PBMCs in the basolateral collagen matrix. For both conditions, Dr. Park will examine how HIV-1 affects the differentiation, proliferation, and expression of HPV proteins in the epithelium.  Dr. Park hypothesizes that HIV-1 or HIV-infected cells will influence cell proliferation in the epithelium by enhancing E6/E7 expression. Second, Dr. Park will determine how HIV-1 breaches the stratified epithelial cell barrier to infect T-cells. To infect T-cells, HIV-1 has to overcome the epithelial cell barrier but the mechanism is controversial. Using the raft system with T-cells in collagen matrix, Dr. Park will investigate how HIV-1 infects T-cells via epithelial cells and compare it in NIKS and NIKS16 to determine whether HPV16 affects HIV-1 infection. This project will determine if HIV-1 infection potentiates the development of HPV-related diseases and also how HIV-1 overcomes epithelial cell barriers to establish infection. This system will provide new mechanistic insights into HPV- and HIV-linked gene regulation and may also serve as a functional platform for investigating additional deadly co-infections associated with the mucosal epithelia (e.g., HIV and EBV-infected cells).