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J Virol. 1995 Jun; 69(6): 3258–3264.
PMCID: PMC189036

Binding and internalization of human papillomavirus type 33 virus-like particles by eukaryotic cells.


Infection of cells by human papillomaviruses (HPVs) associated with malignant genital lesions has not been studied because of the lack of an in vitro system and the unavailability of virions. We have now used virus-like particles (VLPs) of HPV type 33 to analyze the initial events in the interaction of the HPV capsid with cell lines. Binding of VLPs to HeLa cells was observed in biochemical assays and by immunofluorescence. VLP binding was inhibited by antisera raised against VLPs but not by monoclonal antibodies recognizing either L1 or L2 epitopes accessible on VLPs. Under saturating conditions, approximately 2 x 10(4) VLPs were bound per cell, with a dissociation constant of about 100 pM. VLPs composed of L1 alone bound as well as VLPs composed of both capsid proteins, indicating that L2 is not required for initial binding. VLPs dissociated into capsomers did not bind, demonstrating that intercapsomer contacts are required. Neither capsomers nor simian virus 40 virions competed with VLP binding. Uptake of VLPs by small and smooth endocytic vesicles was demonstrated by immunoelectron microscopy. Cellular binding of VLPs was sensitive to trypsin but not to sialidase, N-glycosidase, or octyl-beta-D-glycopyranoside treatment, suggesting that a cell surface protein is involved in the VLP binding. Cell lines originating from a variety of tissues and organisms as distantly related as insects and humans bound VLPs with similar efficiency and specificity. Therefore, the putative receptor mediating VLP attachment should be highly conserved and cannot be responsible for the species and tissue specificity of HPVs.

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Selected References

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