To evaluate an antigen delivery system in which exogenous antigen can target the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I pathway, a single human papillomavirus (HPV) 16 E7 cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) epitope and a single HIV gp160 CTL epitope were separately fused to the C-terminus of bovine papillomavirus 1 (BPV1) L1 sequence to form hybrid BPV1L1 VLPs. Mice immunized with these hybrid VLPs mounted strong CTL responses against the relevant target cells in the absence of any adjuvants. In addition, the CTL responses induced by immunization with BPV1L1/HPV16E7CTL VLPs protected mice against challenge with E7-transformed tumor cells. Furthermore, a high titer- specific antibody response against BPV1L1 VLPs was also induced, and this antiserum could inhibit papillomavirus-induced agglutination of mouse erythrocytes, suggesting that the antibody may recognize conformational determinates relevant to virus neutralization. These data demonstrate that hybrid BPV1L1 VLPs can be used as carriers to target antigenic epitopes to both the MHC class I and class II pathways, providing a promising strategy for the design of vaccines to prevent virus infection, with the potential to elicit therapeutic virus-specific CTL responses.
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