Objectives: In an attempt to develop virus-like particles (VLPs) as experimental vaccine against human papilloma virus (HPV)-induced tumours, the HPV16 E7 oncoprotein epitopes spanning amino acid (aa) residues 35–98 were expressed on three proteins capable of VLP formation: hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface (HBs) and core (HBc) antigens, and RNA phage fr coats (frCP). Methods: The profile of immunoglobulin isotypes induced in Balb/C mice after immunization with purified chimeric proteins was studied. Results: The HBs*-E7(35–54) protein expressing E7 residues 35–54 between residues 139 and 142 of the HBs carrier formed HBs-like particles in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The HBcΔ-E7(35–98), but not the frCP-E7(35–98), ensured VLP formation in Escherichia coli. In Balb/C mice, the HBs*-E7(35–54) VLPs predominantly induced an anti-E7 antibody, but not anti-HBs carrier response, whereas the HBcΔ-E7(35–98) VLPs induced a lower anti-E7 compared to anti-HBc carrier response. The frCP-E7(35–98) protein elicited equally high antibody responses to both E7 and frCP carrier. Analysis of the immunoglobulin G isotype profile of the antibodies induced by the E7-carrying chimeras showed that the HBs and frCP derivatives were capable of eliciting the Th1 and Th2 subsets of T helper cells, whereas the HBc-derived chimeras elicited only the Th2 subset. Conclusions: The HBs and HBc, but not frCP carriers support an efficient outcome for VLPs carrying the HPV16 E7 epitopes. All chimeric proteins may be regarded as potential vaccine candidates.

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