Send to

Choose Destination
Virology. 1997 Nov 10;238(1):40-52.

Characterization of events during the late stages of HPV16 infection in vivo using high-affinity synthetic Fabs to E4.

Author information

National Institute for Medical Research, London, United Kingdom.


HPV late gene expression is initiated as an infected basal cell migrates through the differentiating layers of the epidermis, resulting in the onset of vegetative viral DNA replication and the expression of viral late proteins. We have used a large synthetic immunoglobulin library displayed on phage (diversity 6.5 x 10(10) phage) to isolate three Fabs (TVG405, 406, and 407) which recognize distinct epitopes on the E4 late protein of HPV16. A C-terminal monoclonal (TVG404) was generated by hybridoma technology, and N-terminal polyclonal antiserum was prepared by peptide immunization (alpha N-term). The most potent antibody (TVG405) had an affinity for E4 of approximately 1.0 nM. All antibodies recognized the protein in paraffin-embedded archival material, allowing us to map events in the late stages of virus infection. Expression of E4 in vivo does not coincide with synthesis of the major virus coat protein L1, but precedes it by 1 or 2 cell layers in premalignant lesions caused by HPV16 and by up to 20 cell layers in HPV63-induced warts. In higher grade lesions associated with HPV16, E4 is produced in the absence of L1. By contrast, vegetative viral DNA replication and E4 expression correlate exactly and in some lesions begin as the infected epithelial cell leaves the basal layer. Differentiation markers such as filaggrin, loricrin, and certain keratins are not detectable in E4-positive cells, and nuclear degeneration is delayed. HPV16 E4 has a filamentous distribution in the lower epithelial layers, but associates with solitary perinuclear structures in more differentiated cells. Antibodies to the N-terminus of the protein stained these structures poorly. Our findings are compatible with a role for the HPV16 E4 protein in vegetative DNA replication or in modifying the phenotype of the infected cell to favor virus synthesis or virus release. The Fabs will be of value in the evaluation of model systems for mimicking HPV infection in vitro.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center