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J Virol. 1991 Aug;65(8):4198-203.

Antigenicity of rabies virus glycoprotein.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Génétique des Virus, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.


Although the number of antigenic sites on the rabies virus glycoprotein that have been described regularly increases with time, no attempt has been made to carefully evaluate the relative importance of each of these sites. Here we provide a more precise description of the antigenicity of the protein in mice of the H-2d haplotype; we developed this description by using 264 newly isolated monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and a collection of neutralization-resistant (MAR) mutants. Most of the MAbs (97%) recognized antigenic sites previously described as II and III. One minor antigenic site separated from site III by three amino acids, including a proline, was identified (minor site a). Despite their proximity, there is no overlap between site III and minor site a; i.e., site III-specific MAR mutants were neutralized by the six MAbs defining minor site a, and vice versa. One of our MAbs, 1D1, reacted with sodium dodecyl sulfate-treated glycoprotein in Western blots (immunoblots) under reducing conditions and was therefore probably directed against a linear epitope, A MAR mutant selected with this MAb was still neutralized by MAbs of other specificities. This linear epitope was called G1 (G, Gif). As a general rule, we propose to reserve the term "antigenic site" (either major or minor) for regions of the protein which are defined by several MAbs originating from different fusions and to describe regions of the protein which are defined by a single MAb as epitopes. It would be interesting to test whether the same regions of the rabies virus glycoprotein are antigenic in mice of different haplotypes or in other species.

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