Genetically modified bacterial flagellin (Fla), a Toll-like receptor-5 (TLR5) ligand, was evaluated as a fusion partner for human papillomavirus (HPV) L2-based immunogens in two animal challenge models; either cutaneous inoculation of rabbits with HPV 'quasivirions' containing cottontail rabbit papillomavirus (CRPV) genomes that induce warts, or intra-vaginal inoculation of mice with HPV 'pseudovirions' encapsidating a luciferase reporter plasmid and measurement of bioluminescence to determine infectivity. An Escherichia coli production system was developed for flagellin-L2 (Fla-L2) fusions containing either monomeric HPV-16 L2 a.a. 11(× 11-200) or oligomeric L2 comprising a fusion of the a.a. 11-88 peptides of five (Fla~5 × 11-88) or eight (Fla~8 × 11-88) genital HPV types. Immunogenicity and bioactivity of Fla-L2 constructs were assessed using an in vitro neutralization and cell-based TLR-5 binding assay, respectively. Efficacy was evaluated following active immunization of rabbits or mice administered 3 intramuscular doses of Fla-L2 recombinants without exogenous adjuvant, followed by challenge. In addition, passive immunization studies of naïve rabbits with serial dilutions of pooled immune sera were used to determine End-Point Protection Titers (EPPT) for each formulation against a broader spectrum of HPV quasivirions. Efficacy was assessed for up to 10 weeks on the basis of wart volume induced following challenge and results compared to licensed L1-VLP vaccines (Gardasil and Cervarix). Following active immunization at doses as low as 1. μg, Fla-L2 fusions afforded complete protection against infection (mice) and disease (rabbits) following either homologous or heterologous HPV challenge. Passive immunization with anti-L2 immune sera discriminated between the different vaccine candidates under evaluation, demonstrated the protective role of antibody and suggested the superiority of this oligomeric L2-TLR5 agonist fusion approach compared to L1-based vaccines in its ability to cross-protect against non-vaccine HPV types.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Infectious Diseases