An ideal prophylactic vaccine against human papillomaviruses (HPV) would be one that can induce broadly reactive antibody titres to at least the major oncogenic strains of HPV. It has been previously shown that HPV structural proteins are highly immunogenic bot fail to elicit cross-reactive immune responses against heterologous strains of HPV. Recent studies have demonstrated that the immunity induced by virus-like particles is mostly type specific. In the present study, we determined the breadth of reactivity of antibodies induced in mice immunized with hypervariable epitope constructs (HECs), which represent sequence variants of immunodominant B-cell epitopes of the major capsid protein L1 of HPV. In order to test the breadth of reactivity, sera from immunized mice were tested against peptides representing analogous sequences of HPV types 16, 18, 31 and 45. Mice immunized with HECs based on two epitopes mounted antibody responses that cross-reacted with two different analogues, 16 and 18. Significantly, antibodies from mice immunized with HECs also inhibited haemagglutination mediated by HPV-16 L1 VLPs, suggesting that immunization resulted in the development of antibodies that could bind to viral capsid proteins in their native conformation. Our observations suggest that HECs may overcome the restriction of type specific immunity against HPV.
- Human papilloma virus (HPV): peptides
- Structural proteins
- Virus-like particles (VLP); vaccines: Hypervariable epitope constructs (HECs)
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