Human papilloma virus (HPV)-16 is associated with cervical cancers and induces expression of the E6 and E7 oncogenes. Using a murine cell line that expresses these, the genes are sequenced, and six predicted major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I (MHC-I) epitopes are identified. A liposomal vaccine adjuvant based on cobalt-porphyrin-phospholipid (CoPoP) is admixed with synthetic 9-mer epitopes appended with three histidine residues, resulting in rapid formation of peptide-liposome particles. Immunization with multivalent peptides leads to protection from tumor challenge. Of the peptides screened, only the previously identified E749-57 epitope is functional. The peptide-liposome particles that form upon mixing E7HHH49-57 with CoPoP liposomes are stable in serum and are avidly taken up by immune cells in vitro. Immunization results in robust protection from tumor challenge and re-challenge. A 100 ng peptide dose protects mice in a therapeutic tumor challenge when admixed with CoPoP liposomes, whereas 200-fold higher peptide doses are ineffective with the polyinosinic-polycytidylic (poly(I:C)) adjuvant. CoPoP induces a strong infiltrating CD8+ T-cell response within the tumor microenvironment with an improved functional profile. Vaccine monotherapy using nanogram dosing of the E7HHH49-57 peptide admixed with CoPoP reverses the growth of large established tumors, eradicating subcutaneous tumors upwards of 100 mm3 . Immunization also eradicates lung tumors in a metastasis model.
Keywords: CD8 + T cells; HPV; cancer; immunotherapy; liposomes; peptides; vaccines.
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