Papillomaviruses (HPVs) are small non-enveloped icosahedral viruses that infect the keratinocytes of skin and mucosa. The cutaneous HPV types are represented mainly by the beta and gamma genera, which are widely present in the skin of normal individuals. More than 40 beta-HPV types and 50 gamma-HPV types have been isolated, and these numbers are continuously growing. The main cause of non-melanoma skin cancer is exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). However, cutaneous HPVs that belong to the beta genus may act as a co-carcinogen with UVR. The association between beta-HPVs and skin cancer was first reported in patients with epidermodysplasia verruciformis (EV), who frequently develop cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) on sun-exposed areas. Isolation of HPVs from the lesions suggested that HPVs might act as a co-carcinogen with UVR in EV patients. Beta-HPVs may also play a role in cutaneous SCC in immunocompromised non-EV and in immunocompetent individuals. Several studies have reported an association of viral DNA and/or antibodies to beta HPV types with SCC. Interestingly, HPV prevalence and viral load decrease during skin carcinogenesis, being significantly higher in actinic keratosis than in SCC, suggesting that the virus may play a role in the early stages of tumour development (the “hit-and-run” hypothesis). Concordantly, in vivo and in vitro studies have shown that E6 and E7 from certain cutaneous HPV types display transforming activities, further confirming their potential role in carcinogenesis.Le texte complet de cet article est disponible en PDF.