Development of an Orthotopic HPV16‐Dependent Base of Tongue Tumor Model in MHC‐Humanized Mice

Christoph SCHIFFLERS, Samantha Zottnick, Jonas Förster, Sebastian Kruse, Ruwen Yang, Hendrik Wiethoff, Matthias Bozza, Karin Hoppe-Seyler, Mathias F. Heikenwälder, Richard Harbottle, Carine Michiels, Angelika B. Riemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) caused by infections with high-risk human papillomaviruses (HPV) are responsible for an increasing number of head and neck cancers, particularly in the oropharynx. Despite the significant biological differences between HPV-driven and HPV-negative HNSCC, treatment strategies are similar and not HPV targeted. HPV-driven HNSCC are known to be more sensitive to treatment, particularly to radiotherapy, which is at least partially due to HPV-induced immunogenicity. The development of novel therapeutic strategies that are specific for HPV-driven cancers requires tumor models that reflect as closely as possible the characteristics and complexity of human tumors and their response to treatment. Current HPV-positive cancer models lack one or more hallmarks of their human counterpart. This study presents the development of a new HPV16 oncoprotein-dependent tumor model in MHC-humanized mice, modeling the major biologic features of HPV-driven tumors and presenting HLA-A2-restricted HPV16 epitopes. Furthermore, this model was developed to be orthotopic (base of tongue). Thus, it also reflects the correct tumor microenvironment of HPV-driven HNSCC. The cancer cells are implanted in a manner that allows the exact control of the anatomical location of the developing tumor, thereby homogenizing tumor growth. In conclusion, the new model is suited to study HPV16-specific therapeutic vaccinations and other immunotherapies, as well as tumor-targeted interventions, such as surgery or radiotherapy, or a combination of all these modalities.
Original languageEnglish
Article number188
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • head and neck squamous cell carcinoma
  • human papillomavirus
  • orthotopic tumor model


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