Current L1 virus-like particle (VLP) vaccines provide type-restricted protection against a small subset of the human papillomavirus (HPV) genotypes associated with cervical cancer, necessitating continued cytologic screening of vaccinees. Cervical cancer is most problematic in countries that lack the resources for screening or highly multivalent HPV VLP vaccines, suggesting the need for a low-cost, broadly protective vaccinogen. Here, N-terminal L2 polypeptides comprising residues 1 to 88 or 11 to 200 derived from HPV16, bovine papillomavirus type 1 (BPV1), or cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV) were produced in bacteria. Rabbits were immunized with these N-terminal L2 polypeptides and concurrently challenged with CRPV and rabbit oral papillomavirus (ROPV). Vaccination with either N-terminal L2 polypeptides of CRPV effectively protected rabbits from CRPV challenge but not from papillomas induced by cutaneous challenge with CRPV genomic DNA. Furthermore, papillomas induced by CRPV genomic DNA deficient for L2 expression grew at the same rate as those induced by wild-type CRPV genomic DNA, further suggesting that the L2 polypeptide vaccines lack therapeutic activity. Neutralizing serum antibody titers of >15 correlated with protection (P < 0.001), a finding consistent with neutralizing antibody-mediated protection. Surprisingly, a remarkable degree of protection against heterologous papillomavirus types was observed after vaccination with N-terminal L2 polypeptides. Notably, vaccination with HPV16 L2 11-200 protected against cutaneous and mucosal challenge with CRPV and ROPV, respectively, papillomaviruses that are evolutionarily divergent from HPV16. Further, vaccination with HPV16 L2 11-200 generates broadly cross-neutralizing serum antibody, suggesting the potential of L2 as a second-generation preventive HPV vaccine antigen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science