Identification and characterization of enhancer agonist human cytotoxic T-cell epitopes of the human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) E6/E7.

Author(s): Tsang KY,  Fantini M,  Fernando RI,  Palena C,  David JM,  Hodge JW,  Gabitzsch ES,  Jones FR,  Schlom J

Journal: Vaccine

Date: 2017 May 2

Major Program(s) or Research Group(s): CADRG

PubMed ID: 28389098

PMC ID: PMC5444324

Abstract: Human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with the etiology of cervical carcinoma, head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, and several other cancer types. Vaccines directed against HPV virus-like particles and coat proteins have been extremely successful in the prevention of cervical cancer through the activation of host HPV-specific antibody responses; however, HPV-associated cancers remain a major public health problem. The development of a therapeutic vaccine will require the generation of T-cell responses directed against early HPV proteins (E6/E7) expressed in HPV-infected tumor cells. Clinical studies using various vaccine platforms have demonstrated that both HPV-specific human T cells can be generated and patient benefit can be achieved. However, no HPV therapeutic vaccine has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to date. One method of enhancing the potential efficacy of a therapeutic vaccine is the generation of agonist epitopes. We report the first description of enhancer cytotoxic T lymphocyte agonist epitopes for HPV E6 and E7. While the in silico algorithm revealed six epitopes with potentially improved binding to human leukocyte antigen-A2 allele (HLA-A2)-Class I, 5/6 demonstrated enhanced binding to HLA-Class I in cell-based assays and only 3/6 had a greater ability to activate HPV-specific T cells which could lyse tumor cells expressing native HPV, compared to their native epitope counterparts. These agonist epitopes have potential for use in a range of HPV therapeutic vaccine platforms and for use in HPV-specific adoptive T- or natural killer-cell platforms.