The response of murine T cells to the E7 molecule of human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV-16) was studied using eight different mouse strains of six distinct H-2 haplotypes. HPV-16 E7 protein was prepared as a fusion protein with glutathione--transferase, purified by affinity chromatography and used for immunization. Cells from the lymph nodes were cultured with whole fusion protein, glutathione--transferase or HPV-16 E7 protein synthetic peptides. All the mouse strains tested, with the exception of BALB/c, recognized the E7 molecule, as evidenced by a proliferative response to at least two of the peptides. The profile of responses to peptides varied between and within a strain, but five distinct immunodominant regions could be identified. These regions were defined on the basis of a reaction to one or more peptides in a given part of the E7 molecule by at least four strains. The five regions were encompassed by amino acid residues 1 to 9, 17 to 32, 42 to 59, 62 to 77 and 87 to 98. The findings suggest that in an outbred population, such as man, the E7 molecule of HPV-16 would be recognized by a large proportion of the population. However, the poor response of two mouse strains [B10.RIII (71NS) and BALB/c] could also have a corollary in man.


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