Chimeric papillomavirus virus-like particles elicit antitumor immunity against the e7 oncoprotein in an hpv16 tumor model

Heather L. Greenstone, John D. Nieland, Karin E. De Visser, Marloes L.H. De Bruijn, Reinhard Kirnbauer, Richard B.S. Roden, Douglas R. Lowy, W. Martin Kast, John T. Schiller

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294 Scopus citations


Papillomavirus-like particles (VLPs) are a promising prophylactic vaccine candidate to prevent human papillomavirus (HPV) infections and associated epithelial neoplasia. However, they are unlikely to have therapeutic effects because the virion capsid proteins are not detected in the proliferating cells of the infected epithelia or in cervical carcinomas. To increase the number of viral antigen targets for cell-mediated immune responses in a VLP-based vaccine, we have generated stable chimeric VLPs consisting of the L1 major capsid protein plus the entire E7 (11 kDa) or E2 (43 kDa) nonstructural papillomavirus protein fused to the L2 minor capsid protein. The chimeric VLPs are indistinguishable from the parental VLPs in their morphology and in their ability to agglutinate erythrocytes and elicit high titers of neutralizing antibodies. Protection from tumor challenge was tested in C57BL/6 mice by using the tumor cell line TC-1, which expresses HPV16 E7, but not the virion structural proteins. Injection of HPV16 L1/L2- HPV16 E7 chimeric VLPs, but not HPV16 L1/L2 VLPs, protected the mice from tumor challenge, even in the absence of adjuvant. The chimeric VLPs also induced protection against tumor challenge in major histocompatibility class II-deficient mice, but not in β2-microglobulin or perforin knockout mice implying that protection was mediated by class I-restricted cytotoxic lymphocytes. These findings raise the possibility that VLPs may generally be efficient vehicles for generating cell-mediated immune responses and that, specifically, chimeric VLPs containing papillomavirus nonstructural proteins may increase the therapeutic potential of VLP-based prophylactic vaccines in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1800-1805
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 17 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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