The International HPV Reference Center (IHRC)

The Center (de Villiers et al.,2004Bernard et al.,2010) was originally established at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg in 1985 and was run under the leadership of Dr. Ethel-Michele deVilliers until 2012. In 2012, the International HPV Reference Center was transferred to the Karolinska Institutet, under the leadership of Dr. Joakim Dillner.

The IHRC confirms DNA sequences of novel HPV types after the whole genomes have been cloned, assigns HPV type numbers, deposits and maintains the reference clones, as well as distributes samples of the reference material for research use (as far as allowed by the MTAs with the clone owners).

In 2020, the IHRC actively started coordinating a network of national HPV reference laboratories from 13 different countries in order to promote faster progress towards laboratory standardization and quality assurance by collaborative efforts. Examples of joint work include: an HPV laboratory e-manual, e-learning resources , a joint standard operating procedure for promoting quality in HPV testing services by re-analysis of seemingly HPV negative HSIL and cervical cancers and development of validated bioinformatic pipelines for analysis of HPV sequences.

Confirmation of DNA sequences of novel HPV types and assignment of type numbers

The IHRC receives clones of potentially novel HPV types, clones them again and re-sequences them. If the confirmed sequence is found to represent a novel type, a unique HPV type number is assigned. HPV classification is based on the nucleotide sequence of the gene coding for the capsid protein L1 (de Villiers et al.,2004Bernard et al.,2010):

  • HPV types belonging to different genera share less than 60% similarity.
  • Different HPV species within a genus share between 60 and 70% similarity.
  • A novel HPV type has less than 90% similarity to any other HPV type.

Species and genus names are assigned by Papillomaviridae Study Group of International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses .

Submit a putative novel HPV type

The cloned putative novel HPV type should be sent to the IHRC together with the sequence. The HPV genome can be cloned in more than 1 plasmid.

OBS: Genomes of some putative novel HPV types might be in the International HPV Reference Center awaiting for re-cloning and confirmation. To avoid wasting time and resources on cloning of “new” HPVs that are actually already known, we strongly recommend to send original HPV sequences to the International Human Papillomavirus Reference Center where we will check and confirm their novelty.

Request a clone for academic research

The IHRC distributes samples of the reference clones, for academic research use, under Material Transfer Agreements agreed upon with the originator. To request a clone: contact the reference center with information on which HPV types you are interested in. If we have permission from the owner to distribute the HPV type a MTA will be sent out to the requesting laboratory for signing.

Order a proficiency panel

To register for the HPV screening/typing proficiency panels and get more information contact EQUALIS: info@equalis.se.