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J Immunol. 1990 May 1;144(9):3544-51.

Importance of subtype in the immune response to the pre-S(2) region of the hepatitis B surface antigen. II. Synthetic Pre-S(2) immunogen.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Research Institute of Scripps Clinic, La Jolla, CA 92037.


One purpose of this study was to examine the influence of viral subtype on in vivo antibody production to the pre-S(2) region of the hepatitis B surface Ag. Immunization with hepatitis B surface Ag particles containing the pre-S(2) region of the d or y subtypes identified the B10.M (H-2f) strain as an antibody nonresponder to the pre-S(2) and S regions after immunization with the y subtype, but as an antibody responder to the pre-S(2) and S regions after immunization with the d subtype. Both the S region and pre-S(2) region-specific antibody responses emanated from pre-S(2)/d-specific Th cell function because B10.M mice are T cell nonresponsive to the S region of both subtypes. Although responder/nonresponder status of the B10.M strain was dependent on the pre-S(2) subtype used for immunization, the anti-pre-S(2) antibody produced was totally cross-reactive on both subtypes. This is consistent with the conserved nature of the dominant pre-S(2) antibody-binding site and the highly polymorphic nature of the pre-S(2) sequence that represents the focus of T cell recognition. These data suggest that, to fully benefit from the inclusion of pre-S(2) region sequences, third generation hepatitis B virus vaccines should contain both the d and y subtype sequences of the pre-S(2) region to increase the frequency of pre-S(2) and S-specific antibody responses and to insure Th cell memory relevant to both viral subtypes. A second purpose of this study was to "design" a synthetic pre-S(2) immunogen based on combining the dominant B and T cell recognition sites into a single peptide. A composite peptide consisting of the dominant T cell recognition sequence p151-174 positioned N-terminal to the dominant B cell site p133-143 (i.e., p151-174(133-143] yielded an effective pre-S(2) synthetic immunogen. Interestingly, the orientation of the T and B cell determinants and the context of the T cell site within the larger composite peptide influenced both antibody fine specificity and T cell fine specificity.

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