Transient expression of fusion gene coding for the HPV-16 epitopes fused to the sequence of potyvirus coat protein using different means of inoculation of Nicotiana benthamiana and Brassica rapa, cv. Rapa plants
We have identified a major T-cell epitope, amino acids 48-54 (DRAHYNI, in one-letter code) in the E7 open reading frame protein of human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16. Lymph node cells from mice immunized with synthetic peptides containing DRAHYNI proliferated and produced interleukin when challenged in vitro with peptide or whole HPV-16 E7 fusion protein. The T epitope was recognized in association with all five major histocompatibility complex class II I-A and I-E alleles tested. Synthetic peptides consisting of DRAHYNI linked to major B-cell epitopes on the E7 molecule formed immunogens capable of eliciting strong antibody responses to HPV-16 E7. The T epitope could provide help for the production of antibody to several B epitopes simultaneously, including a B epitope of HPV-18 E7 protein. Mice immunized with a peptide containing DRAHYNI and B epitope and, at a later date, infected with recombinant vaccinia E7 virus, displayed secondary antibody responses to E7. Because E7 has a role in cell transformation and is the most abundant viral protein in HPV-associated neoplastic cervical epithelial cells, the data have implications for vaccine strategies.