We show that minor capsid protein L2 is full length in clinical virion isolates and prepare furin-cleaved pseudovirus (fcPsV) as a model of the infectious intermediate for multiple human papillomavirus (HPV) types. These fcPsV do not require furin for in vitro infection, and are fully infectious in vivo. Both the γ-secretase inhibitor XXI and carrageenan block fcPsV infection in vitro and in vivo implying that they act after furin-cleavage of L2. Despite their enhanced exposure of L2 epitopes, vaccination with fcPsV particles fails to induce L2 antibody, although L1-specific responses are similar to PsV with intact L2. FcPsV can be applied in a simple, high-throughput neutralization assay that detects L2-specific neutralizing antibodies with >10-fold enhanced sensitivity compared with the PsV-based assay. The PsV and fcPsV-based assays exhibit similar sensitivity for type-specific antibodies elicited by L1 virus-like particles (VLP), but the latter improves detection of L1-specific cross-type neutralizing antibodies.
Keywords: Carrageenan; Furin; Gamma secretase; Heparin; Human papillomavirus (HPV); Infectious intermediate; L2; Minor capsid protein; Neutralization; Papillomavirus.
© 2013 Published by Elsevier Inc.