Antitumor efficacy of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particles encoding mutated HPV16 E6 and E7 genes

M. Cristina Cassetti, Sue P. McElhiney, Vafa Shahabi, Jeffrey K. Pullen, I. Caroline Le Poole, Gretchen L. Eiben, Larry R. Smith, W. Martin Kast*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


An effective vaccine for treating human papillomavirus (HPV)-associated malignancies such as cervical cancer should elicit strong T cell-mediated immunity (CMI) against the E6 and/or E7 proteins necessary for the malignant state. We have developed Venezuelan equine encephalitis (VEE) virus replicon particle (VRP) vaccines encoding the HPV16 E6 and E7 genes and tested their immunogenicity and antitumor efficacy. The E6 and E7 genes were fused to create one open reading frame and mutated at four or at five amino acid positions to inactivate their oncogenic potential. VRP encoding mutant or wild type E6 and E7 proteins elicited comparable cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) responses to an immunodominant E749-57 epitope and generated comparable antitumor responses in several HPV16 E6+E7+ tumor challenge models: protection from either C3 or TC-1 tumor challenge was observed in 100% of VRP-vaccinated mice. Eradication of C3 tumors was observed in approximately 90% of mice following therapeutic VRP vaccination. Eradication of HLF16 tumors lacking the E749-57 epitope was observed in 90% of human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-A*0201 transgenic mice following therapeutic VRP vaccination. Finally, the predicted inactivation of E6 and E7 oncogenic potential was confirmed by demonstrating normal levels of both p53 and retinoblastoma proteins in human mammary epithelial cells (MEC) infected with VRP expressing mutant E6 and E7 genes. These promising results support the continued development of mutant E6 and E7 VRP as safe and effective candidates for clinical evaluation against HPV-associated disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-527
Number of pages8
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jan 2 2004


  • Alphavirus
  • CTL
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Tumor therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • veterinary(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases

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