The amino terminus of the human papillomavirus (HPV) minor capsid protein L2 contains a major cross-neutralization epitope which provides the basis for the development of a broadly protecting HPV vaccine. A wide range of protection against different HPV types would eliminate one of the major drawbacks of the commercial, L1-based prophylactic vaccines. Previously, we have reported that insertion of the L2 epitope into a scaffold composed of bacterial thioredoxin protein generates a potent antigen inducing comprehensive protection against different animal and human papillomaviruses. We also reported, however, that although protection is broad, some oncogenic HPV types escape the neutralizing antibody response, if L2 epitopes from single HPV types are used as immunogen. We were able to compensate for this by applying a mix of thioredoxin proteins carrying L2 epitopes from HPV16, -31, and -51. As the development of a cost-efficient HPV prophylactic vaccines is one of our objectives, this approach is not feasible as it requires the development of multiple good manufacturing production processes in combination with a complex vaccine formulation. Here, we report the development of a thermostable thioredoxin-based single-peptide vaccine carrying an L2 polytope of up to 11 different HPV types. The L2 polytope antigens have excellent abilities in respect to broadness of protection and robustness of induced immune responses. To further increase immunogenicity, we fused the thioredoxin L2 polytope antigen with a heptamerization domain. In the final vaccine design, we achieve protective responses against all 14 oncogenic HPV types that we have analyzed plus the low-risk HPVs 6 and 11 and a number of cutaneous HPVs.
Minor capsid protein L2 polytope induces broad protection against oncogenic and mucosal human papillomaviruses / Pouyanfard, Somayeh; Spagnoli, Gloria; Bulli, Lorenzo; Balz, Kathrin; Yang, Fan; Odenwald, Caroline; Seitz, Hanna; Mariz, Filipe C.; Bolchi, Angelo; Ottonello, Simone; Müller, Martin. - In: JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY. - ISSN 0022-538X. - 92:4(2018), p. JVI.01930-17. [10.1128/JVI.01930-17]
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