Background: The human papillomavirus (HPV) is the cause of virtually all cervical cancer, with over 520,000 new cases and 275,000 deaths annually. Although there are at least 200 unique HPV strains, only “high-risk” types, may progress to cancer. Serum antibodies to HPV oncoproteins are stable and specific markers that may be able to detect high-grade cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN3). Biomarkers have potential as a rapid, point-of-care HPV screening tool for low resource areas in the way that traditional cytology cannot, and HPV DNA testing is not yet able to.
Methods: We have designed a multiplexed magnetics programmable bead ELISA (MagProBE) to profile the immune responses of the proteins from 11 high-risk HPV types and 2 low-risk types—106 genes in total. HPV genes were optimized for human expression and either built with PCR or commercially purchased, and cloned into the Gateway-compatible pANT7_cGST vector for in vitro transcription/translation (IVTT) in a MagProBE array. Anti-GST antibody (Ab) labeling was then used to measure gene expression.
Results: 53/106 (50%) HPV genes have been cloned and tested for expression of protein. 91% of HPV proteins expressed at levels above the background control (MFI = 2288), and the mean expression was MFI = 4318. Codon-optimized genes have also shown a 20% higher expression over non-codon optimized genes.
Conclusion: Although this research is ongoing, it suggests that gene optimization may improve IVTT expression of HPV proteins in human HeLa lysate. Once the remaining HPV proteins have been expression confirmed, the cDNA for each gene will be printed onto slides and tested in serologic assays to identify potential Ab biomarkers to CIN3.