Enhanced therapeutic effects conferred by an experimental DNA vaccine targeting human papillomavirus-induced tumors

Hum Gene Ther. 2013 Oct;24(10):861-70. doi: 10.1089/hum.2013.102.


Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is responsible for all cervical cancer cases, other anogenital cancers, and head and neck tumors. The epidemiological relevance of HPV-induced tumors reinforces the need for the development of therapeutic antitumor vaccines. Clinical trials with different vaccine formulations, particularly DNA vaccines, have provided promising results but have still been unable to achieve the immunogenicity required for use in infected patients. In experimental conditions, anticancer HPV-specific vaccines induced E7-specific CD8(+) T-cell responses but did not confer full therapeutic antitumor protection in mice with transplanted HPV-expressing TC-1 cells, which are the most frequently used nonclinical protection correlate for antitumor effects. Our group has developed a DNA vaccine strategy based on the fusion of HPV oncoproteins to the herpes virus gD protein. This vaccine promoted the induction of antigen-specific cytotoxic CD8(+) T-cell responses and partial antitumor therapeutic effects based on the blockade of coinhibitory signals and the enhancement of coactivation mechanisms. In the present study, we report conditions leading to full therapeutic antitumor effects using the TC-1 cell murine model after a single vaccine dose. The combination of a coadministered plasmid encoding IL-2, optimization of the coding sequence for mammalian cells, and the use of different delivery routes resulted in enhancements of the E7-specific cytotoxic CD8(+) T-cell responses and full therapeutic protection under experimental conditions. The combination of these strategies augmented the potency of the DNA vaccine formulation to levels not previously achieved by other therapeutic antitumor vaccines under similar experimental conditions, including some that have been taken to clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biolistics / methods
  • CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cancer Vaccines / genetics
  • Cancer Vaccines / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Cytotoxicity, Immunologic
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / genetics*
  • Human papillomavirus 16 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-2 / genetics
  • Interleukin-2 / immunology
  • Mice
  • Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / genetics
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / immunology
  • Papillomavirus Infections / complications*
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / genetics
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines / immunology*
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Plasmids / immunology
  • Vaccines, DNA / immunology*


  • Cancer Vaccines
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins
  • Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Vaccines, DNA
  • oncogene protein E7, Human papillomavirus type 16