Continuous expression of the human papillomavirus (HPV) oncoproteins E6 and E7 is required for the growth of cervical cancer cell lines. So far, only the overexpression of the wild type papillomavirus E2 protein has been shown to induce growth arrest in HPV18-positive HeLa cells by repressing E6/E7 transcription. Growth arrest by E2 requires the aminoterminal transcription activation domain in addition to the carboxyterminal DNA-binding domain. Several papillomaviruses such as the carcinogenic HPV31 express in addition to E2 an E8∧E2C fusion protein in which the E8 domain, which is required for repression of replication and transcription, replaces the E2 activation domain. In this report, we demonstrate that the HPV31 E8∧E2C protein is able to inhibit the growth of HeLa cells but not of HPV-negative C33A cervical cancer cells. Growth repression by E8∧E2C correlates with repression of the endogenous HPV18 E6/E7 promoter and the reappearance of E6- and E7-regulated p53, pRb and p21 proteins, suggesting that E8∧E2C inhibits growth by reactivating dormant tumor suppressor pathways. Growth inhibition requires an intact E8 repression domain in addition to the carboxyterminal E2C DNA binding domain. Chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments suggest that the E8 repression domain enhances binding to the HPV18 promoter sequence in vivo. In summary, our results demonstrate that the small E8 repression domain can functionally replace the large E2 transactivation domain for growth inhibition of HeLa cervical cancer cells. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.