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Virology. 2004 Oct 1;327(2):242-8.

Cross-reactive pseudovirus-neutralizing anti-envelope antibodies coexist with antibodies devoid of such activity in persistent hepatitis C virus infection.

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Istituto di Microbiologia, Facoltà di Medicina e Chirurgia, Università di Ancona, 60020 Ancona, Italy.


Most RNA viruses have evolved mechanisms to avoid neutralizing antibody responses, and it is generally believed that variability of envelope-encoding regions is the major molecular basis of this phenomenon. However, it has been hypothesized that other mechanisms can be involved. Recent experimental data indicate that in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, the anti-envelope humoral response includes cross-reactive antibody clones able to neutralize vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) pseudotypes containing HCV E1 and E2 glycoproteins (HCV/VSV pseudotype) as well as other clones devoid of such activity. In this work, we demonstrate that natural infection with a large variety of HCV isolates belonging to different genotypes elicits HCV/VSV pseudotype-neutralizing cross-reactive anti-envelope antibodies together with clones unable to neutralize this pseudovirus. This was shown by designing a novel strategy for quantitation of serum antibodies binding selectively to single viral cross-reactive conformational epitopes. These data can be useful not only for a better understanding of the virus-host interplay in important viral diseases, but also for the development of an effective anti-HCV vaccine.

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