Microparticles produced by human papillomavirus type 16 E7-expressing cells impair antigen presenting cell function and the cytotoxic T cell response

Sci Rep. 2018 Feb 5;8(1):2373. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-20779-2.


High-risk, cancer-causing human papillomaviruses (HPV) cause infections of the epidermis that may progress to cancer, including cervical cancer. Viral persistence, contributed to by viral evasion of the host immune response, is associated with the likelihood of cancer developing. Langerhans cells (LCs) are the only professional antigen presenting cells located in the epidermis, therefore may influence the antiviral immune response. Microparticles, or microvesicles, are small membrane particles shed by cells that can exert effects on other cells at both a local and systemic level. We found increased numbers of microparticles were shed from human or mouse keratinocytes expressing the HPV16 E7 oncoprotein, compared with control keratinocytes. Co-culture of LCs with microparticles from E7-expressing cells suppressed the cytotoxic T cell response. We attributed this, at least in part, to the reduction in surface of CD40 and intracellular pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-12 p40 subunit that we measured in the LCs. The evidence provided here shows that co-culture of E7-microparticles with LCs inhibits antigen-specific cytotoxicity. This is an important finding, suggesting that microparticles from HPV-infected cells could suppress the T cell response by regulating LCs, potentially contributing to persistence of HPV infection and cancer.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell-Derived Microparticles / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Coculture Techniques
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / metabolism*
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Langerhans Cells / drug effects
  • Langerhans Cells / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Papillomavirus E7 Proteins
  • oncogene protein E7, Human papillomavirus type 16