Characterization of the regions of human papillomaviruses (HPVs) that elicit neutralizing immune responses supports studies on viral infectivity and provides insight for the development and evaluation of prophylactic vaccines. HPV11 is a major etiologic agent of genital warts and a likely vaccine candidate. A conformationally dependent epitope for the binding of three neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) has been mapped to residues G131T132 of the L1 major capsid protein. The mAbs bind L1 only when it is assembled into virions or into virus-like particles (VLPs) that mimic the capsid structure. We were interested in identifying other domains of L1 that elicit neutralizing responses. To this end, we have generated a panel of mAbs against VLPs derived from HPV11 L1 harboring a G131S substitution. The new mAbs are unlike the neutralizing mAbs previously mapped to residues G131T132 in that they bind both prototype and HPV11:G131S mutant VLPs. Some of the new mAbs neutralized virus in vitro. We have mapped epitopes for three of these new mAbs, as well as a neutralizing mAb generated against HPV11 virions, by measuring binding to HPV6 VLPs substituted with HPV11-like amino acids. Two regions are critical: one defined by HPV11 L1 residues 263- 290 and the other by residues 346-349. mAbs H11.H3 and H11:G131S.G3 bind HPV6 VLPs with substitutions derived from the 346-349 region; in addition, H11.G131S.G3 binds HPV6 VLPs with substitutions derived only from the 263-290 region. Although H11.H3 does not bind HPV6 VLPS with substitutions derived from the 263-290 region, binding to HPV6 VLPs is enhanced when both sets of substitutions a re present mAbs H11.G131S.I1 and H11.G131S.K5 bind HPV6 VLPs with the 263-290 substitutions, but show little binding to HPV6 VLPs with the 346-349 substitutions. However, binding to HPV6 VLPS is enhanced when substitutions at both regions are present. The 346-349 region has not previously been described as eliciting a neutralizing response for any HPV type. In addition, the work demonstrates a complex binding site contributed by two distinct regions of L1. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
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