Rational design of a multi-valent human papillomavirus vaccine by capsomere-hybrid co-assembly of virus-like particles
Abstract: The capsid of human papillomavirus (HPV) spontaneously arranges into a T = 7 icosahedral particle with 72 L1 pentameric capsomeres associating via disulfide bonds between Cys175 and Cys428. Here, we design a capsomere-hybrid virus-like particle (chVLP) to accommodate multiple types of L1 pentamers by the reciprocal assembly of single C175A and C428A L1 mutants, either of which alone encumbers L1 pentamer particle self-assembly. We show that co-assembly between any pair of C175A and C428A mutants across at least nine HPV genotypes occurs at a preferred equal molar stoichiometry, irrespective of the type or number of L1 sequences. A nine-valent chVLP vaccine—formed through the structural clustering of HPV epitopes—confers neutralization titers that are comparable with that of Gardasil 9 and elicits minor cross-neutralizing antibodies against some heterologous HPV types. These findings may pave the way for a new vaccine design that targets multiple pathogenic variants or cancer cells bearing diverse neoantigens.