Background: "High risk" Human Papillomavirus strains are the causative agents of the vast majority of carcinomas of the uterine cervix. In these tumors, the physical integration of the HPV genome is a frequent, though not invariable occurrence, but the constitutive expression of the E6 and E7 viral genes is always observed, suggesting key roles for the E6 and E7 oncoproteins in the process of malignant transformation. The "intracellular antibody" technology using recombinant antibodies in single-chain format offers the possibility of targeting a protein in its intracellular environment even at the level of definite domains thus representing a valuable strategy to "knock out" the function of specific proteins.Methods: In this study, we investigate the in vitro activity of two single-chain antibody fragments directed against the "high-risk" HPV 16 E7 oncoprotein, scFv 43M2 and scFv 51. These scFvs were expressed by retroviral system in different cell compartments of the HPV16-positive SiHa cells, and cell proliferation was analyzed by Colony Formation Assay and EZ4U assay. The binding of these scFvs to E7, and their possible interference with the interaction between E7 and its main target, the tumor suppressor pRb protein, were then investigated by immunoassays, PepSet™technology and Surface Plasmon Resonance.Results: The expression of the two scFvs in the nucleus and the endoplasmic reticulum of SiHa cells resulted in the selective growth inhibition of these cells. Analysis of binding showed that both scFvs bind E7 via distinct but overlapping epitopes not corresponding to the pRb binding site. Nevertheless, the binding of scFv 43M2 to E7 was inhibited by pRb in a non-competitive manner.Conclusions: Based on the overall results, the observed inhibition of HPV-positive SiHa cells proliferation could be ascribed to an interaction between scFv and E7, involving non-pRb targets. The study paves the way for the employment of specific scFvs in immunotherapeutic approaches against the HPV-associated lesions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research