A conserved E7-derived cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitope expressed on human papillomavirus 16-transformed HLA-A2+ epithelial cancers

J Biol Chem. 2010 Sep 17;285(38):29608-22. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.126722. Epub 2010 Jul 8.


Human Papillomavirus 16 (HPV-16) has been identified as the causative agent of 50% of cervical cancers and many other HPV-associated tumors. The transforming potential/tumor maintenance capacity of this high risk HPV is mediated by two viral oncoproteins, E6 and E7, making them attractive targets for therapeutic vaccines. Of 21 E6 and E7 peptides computed to bind HLA-A*0201, 10 were confirmed through TAP-deficient T2 cell HLA stabilization assay. Those scoring positive were investigated to ascertain which were naturally processed and presented by surface HLA molecules for CTL recognition. Because IFNγ ELISpot frequencies from healthy HPV-exposed blood donors against HLA-A*0201-binding peptides were unable to identify specificities for tumor targeting, their physical presence among peptides eluted from HPV-16-transformed epithelial tumor HLA-A*0201 immunoprecipitates was analyzed by MS(3) Poisson detection mass spectrometry. Only one epitope (E7(11-19)) highly conserved among HPV-16 strains was detected. This 9-mer serves to direct cytolysis by T cell lines, whereas a related 10-mer (E7(11-20)), previously used as a vaccine candidate, was neither detected by MS(3) on HPV-transformed tumor cells nor effectively recognized by 9-mer specific CTL. These data underscore the importance of precisely defining CTL epitopes on tumor cells and offer a paradigm for T cell-based vaccine design.

MeSH terms

  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Computational Biology
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / immunology
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte / metabolism*
  • HLA-A Antigens / immunology
  • HLA-A Antigens / metabolism
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / immunology
  • HLA-A2 Antigen / metabolism*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / genetics
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunoprecipitation
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / genetics
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral / immunology
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / genetics
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / immunology
  • Peptides / immunology
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / metabolism*
  • Transduction, Genetic


  • E6 protein, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte
  • HLA-A Antigens
  • HLA-A*02:01 antigen
  • HLA-A2 Antigen
  • Oncogene Proteins, Viral
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins
  • Peptides
  • Repressor Proteins
  • oncogene protein E7, Human papillomavirus type 16
  • Interferon-gamma