Oral immunization with bacteriophage MS2-L2 VLPs protects against oral and genital infection with multiple HPV types associated with head & neck cancers and cervical cancer.

Lukai Zhai, Michigan Technological University
Rashi Yadav, Michigan Technological University
Nitesh K Kunda, University of New Mexico
Dana Anderson, Michigan Technological University
Elizabeth Bruckner, Michigan Technological University
Elliott K Miller, University of New Mexico
Rupsa Basu, Michigan Technological University
Pavan Muttil, University of New Mexico
Ebenezer Tumban, Michigan Technological University


Human papillomaviruses (HPVs) are the most common sexually transmitted infections. HPVs are transmitted through anogenital sex or oral sex. Anogenital transmission/infection is associated with anogenital cancers and genital warts while oral transmission/infection is associated with head and neck cancers (HNCs) including recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Current HPV vaccines protect against HPV types associated with ∼90% of cervical cancers and are expected to protect against a percentage of HNCs. However, only a few studies have assessed the efficacy of current vaccines against oral HPV infections. We had previously developed a mixed MS2-L2 candidate HPV vaccine based on bacteriophage MS2 virus-like particles (VLPs). The mixed MS2-L2 VLPs consisted of a mixture of two MS2-L2 VLPs displaying: i) a concatemer of L2 peptide (epitope 20-31) from HPV31 & L2 peptide (epitope 17-31) from HPV16 and ii) a consensus L2 peptide representing epitope 69-86. The mixed MS2-L2 VLPs neutralized/protected mice against six HPV types associated with ∼87% of cervical cancer. Here, we show that the mixed MS2-L2 VLPs can protect mice against additional HPV types; at the genital region, the VLPs protect against HPV53, 56, 11 and at the oral region, the VLPs protect against HPV16, 35, 39, 52, and 58. Thus, mixed MS2-L2 VLPs protect against eleven oncogenic HPV types associated with ∼95% of cervical cancer. The VLPs also have the potential to protect, orally, against the same oncogenic HPVs, associated with ∼99% of HNCs, including HPV11, which is associated with up to 32% of recurrent respiratory papillomatosis. Moreover, mixed MS2-L2 VLPs are thermostable at room temperature for up to 60 days after spray-freeze drying and they are protective against oral HPV infection.