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J Immunol. 1995 Jun 1;154(11):5934-43.

Human CTL epitopes encoded by human papillomavirus type 16 E6 and E7 identified through in vivo and in vitro immunogenicity studies of HLA-A*0201-binding peptides.

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Department of Immunohematology and Blood Bank, University Hospital Leiden, The Netherlands.


Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) is strongly associated with cervical carcinogenesis. The HPV16 E6 and E7 oncoproteins are constitutively expressed in the majority of cervical tumor cells and are, therefore, attractive targets for CTL-mediated immunotherapy. In mice, the outgrowth of a lethal dose of HPV16-induced tumor cells has been prevented by vaccination with a CTL epitope encoded by HPV16 E7, indicating the feasibility of peptide immunization to obtain antitumor CTL responses. In the present study, the immunogenicity of 9 HLA-A*0201-binding peptides encoded by HPV16 E6 and E7 was analyzed in vivo in HLA-A*0201Kb transgenic mice and in vitro in CTL cultures induced from PBMC of HLA-A*0201+ healthy donors. Four peptides with a good binding affinity were immunogenic in HLA-A*0201Kb transgenic mice, and three of them were also highly immunogenic in CTL induction experiments with PBMC of HLA-A*0201+ healthy donors. Human CTL clones specific for these three peptides were capable of lysing the HPV16 E7-containing HLA-A*0201+ cervical carcinoma cell line CaSki. These E7-derived peptides (11-20, YMLDLQPETT; 82-90, LLMGTLGIV; 86-93, TLGIVCPI), therefore, are likely to represent naturally processed human CTL epitopes of HPV16. Additionally, these three HPV16-encoded peptides have the highest affinity of binding to the HLA-A*0201 molecule. In this study, peptides with a lower binding affinity were less immunogenic. Therefore, our data illustrate that the HLA-binding affinity of a peptide has a major impact on its immunogenicity. In conclusion, we have identified immunogenic peptides encoded by HPV16 E6 and E7 that could be used in vaccines for the prevention and treatment of cervical carcinoma.

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