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Clin Diagn Virol. 1993 Aug;1(3):153-65.

Evaluation of serum antibody response to a newly identified B-cell epitope in the minor nucleocapsid protein L2 of human papillomavirus type 16.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Tampere, Tampere, Finland.


The aim of this work was to identify B-cell epitopes in the minor nucleocapsid (L2) protein of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 and characterization of allied antibody response. Serum samples of 513 individuals (323 women with various degrees of cervical atypia, 150 men and 40 small children) were available for the study. Synthetic peptides overlapping the L2 protein of HPV 16 twice were applied in ELISA for epitope scanning and antibody determination. An HPV 16 L2 derived dodecamer SGYIPANTTIPF (amino acids 391-402) proved to be the major B-cell epitope. Both IgA antipeptide antibody positivity (range 7-28%) and mean IgA antibody levels (range 13.2 EIU to 42.4 EIU, P < 0.05) increased with the degree of cervical atypia, whereas antipeptide IgG antibodies showed an opposite trend. During a 2-years follow-up significantly (P < 0.0005) decreasing IgA antibody levels to the SGYIPANTTIPF peptide were associated with regression of koilocytotic atypia. Analysis of anti-peptide IgA antibodies of 118 women with known HPV type revealed that a majority of positives had HPV 16/18 DNA. It was concluded that antibody response to the newly discovered peptide was partially type- and disease-specific. Our results also suggest an impairment of the IgG but not IgA class antibody response to HPV 16 in patients with persistent cervical HPV infection.


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