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Immunobiology. 2007;212(9-10):679-91. Epub 2007 Nov 14.

Binding of human papilloma virus L1 virus-like particles to dendritic cells is mediated through heparan sulfates and induces immune activation.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VU University Medical Center, van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081 BT, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Immunization using human papilloma virus (HPV)-L1 virus-like particles (VLPs) induces a robust and effective immune response, which has recently resulted in the implementation of the HPV-L1 VLP vaccination in health programs. However, during infection, HPV can escape immune surveillance leading to latency and disease. Dendritic cells (DCs) induce effective immune responses after vaccination, but might also induce immune modulation during infection. The interaction of HPV-L1 VLPs with mucosal DCs determines the immune response. However, little is known about the receptors on mucosal DC subsets involved in HPV-L1 VLP binding. Therefore, we set out to investigate the interaction of HPV-L1 VLPs with the different mucosal DC subsets; the subepithelial DCs and Langerhans cells (LCs). We observed strong binding of HPV-L1 VLPs to both DCs and LCs. We did not observe an involvement for C-type lectins such as dendritic cell-specific ICAM-3 grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) and langerin. The HPV-L1 VLP binding to DCs was mediated through heparan sulfates, since it was abrogated by heparinase-II treatment. The heparan sulfate proteoglycan syndecan-3 binds VLPs and is expressed on both DCs and LCs. Binding of VLPs to DCs, but not to LCs, strongly correlated with the levels of heparan sulfates and syndecan-3, suggesting that syndecan-3 is the main receptor for HPV-L1 VLPs on DCs. VLP interaction with DCs resulted in the up-regulation of co-stimulatory molecules and the production of the cytokines IL-6, IL-8, IL-10 and IL-12p40. Our results support an important role for syndecan-3 as a HPV receptor on DCs, which could be important for both vaccine development and understanding HPV pathogenesis.

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