Current prophylactic virus-like particle (VLP) human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines are based on the L1 major capsid protein and provide robust but virus type-restricted protection. Moreover, VLP vaccines have a high production cost, require cold-chain storage, and are thus not readily implementable in developing countries, which endure 85% of the cervical cancer–related death burden worldwide. In contrast with L1, immunization with minor capsid protein L2 elicits broad cross-neutralization, and we previously showed that insertion of a peptide spanning amino acids 20–38 of L2 into bacterial thioredoxin (Trx) greatly enhances its immunogenicity. Building on this finding, we use, here, four different neutralization assays to demonstrate that low doses of a trivalent Trx-L2 vaccine, incorporating L2(20–38) epitopes from HPV16, HPV31 and HPV51, and formulated in a human-compatible adjuvant, induce broadly protective responses. Specifically, we show that this vaccine, which uses a far-divergent archaebacterial thioredoxin as scaffold and is amenable to an easy one-step thermal purification, induces robust cross-neutralization against 12 of the 13 known oncogenic HPV types. Immune performance measured with two different in vitro neutralization assays was corroborated by the results of mouse cervico-vaginal challenge and passive transfer experiments indicating robust cross-protection also in vivo. Altogether, our results attest to the potential of Trx-L2 as a thermostable second-generation HPV vaccine particularly well suited for low-resource countries. Cancer Prev Res; 8(10); 1–10. ©2015 AACR.
- Received April 25, 2015.
- Revision received June 16, 2015.
- Accepted July 6, 2015.
- ©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.