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J Virol. 2002 Jun;76(12):6027-36.

Detection of CD4(+)- and CD8(+)-T-cell responses to human papillomavirus type 1 antigens expressed at various stages of the virus life cycle by using an enzyme-linked immunospot assay of gamma interferon release.

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  • 1Cancer Research UK Institute for Cancer Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, United Kingdom. j.c.steele@bham.ac.uk


Human papillomavirus (HPV) antigens are expressed in epithelial cells at different stages of differentiation, and this may affect how they are handled by the immune system. We assessed the relative immunogenicities of four different HPV type 1 proteins: E6 and E7, which are made early in basal or parabasal cells; E4, which is made suprabasally in differentiating cells; and L1, a late protein which appears in the highly differentiated upper spinous layers. Pools of 15-mer peptides covering the primary sequences of all four proteins were used to screen 15 normal donors in enzyme-linked immunospot assays of gamma interferon release for both CD4(+)- and CD8(+)-T-cell reactivities. CD8(+)-T-cell responses were detected to the L1 protein in 7 of the 15 samples examined. No responses to E6, E7, or E4 were detected. CD4(+)-T-cell reactivities were again detected in 7 of the 15 donors. A broader spectrum of responses to E6 (three of seven), E4 (six of seven), and L1 (three of seven) was apparent, but there was no reactivity to E7. The predominant CD4(+) response was to E4. Reactivities were seen in some cases to corresponding regions on other common HPV types but were probably due to a multiple infection rather than to a cross-reaction. Antibodies to HPV1 virus-like particles were detected in 12 of the 15 (80%) donors, but antibody status did not correlate with T-cell reactivity. The differences in the relative immunogenicities of the four proteins revealed in this study are discussed in relation to how they may be processed and presented to the immune system by differentiating epithelial cells.

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