The L1 major capsid protein-coding sequences of human papillomavirus (HPV) types 11, 16 and 18 were expressed in the baculovirus system. Virus-like particles (VLPs) were purified from recombinant-infected Sf9 cells and cell-free culture supernatants. Rabbits immunized with purified VLPs developed antibodies that reacted only with the specific VLP type used as the immunogen. In addition, rabbit antibodies raised against infectious HPV-11 virions only reacted with HPV-11 L1 VLPs and not with VLPs derived from either HPV-16 or HPV-18. These results suggest that HPV-11, HPV-16 and HPV-18 virions are antigenically distinct from one another. This observation should be considered in future studies of immune responses to HPV.


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