VLPs were subjected to post-purification disassembly and reassembly (D/R) treatment during bioprocessing to improve VLP immunoreactivity and stability. The post-D/R HPV16 VLPs and their complex with H16.V5 neutralizing antibody Fab fragments were visualized by cryo electron microscopy, showing VLPs densely decorated with antibody. Along with structural improvements, post-D/R VLPs showed markedly higher antigenicity to conformational and neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) H16.V5, H16.E70 and H263.A2, whereas binding to mAbs recognizing linear epitopes (H16.J4, H16.O7, and H16.H5) was greatly reduced. Strikingly, post-D/R VLPs showed no detectable binding to H16.H5, indicating that the H16.H5 epitope is not accessible in fully assembled VLPs. An atomic homology model of the entire HPV16 VLP was generated based on previously determined high-resolution structures of bovine papillomavirus and HPV16 L1 pentameric capsomeres.
Image courtesy of Russell Kightley Media