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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32938. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032938. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Structure-based high-throughput epitope analysis of hexon proteins in B and C species human adenoviruses (HAdVs).

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Key Laboratory of Systems Biology of Pathogens, Ministry of Health, The Institute of Pathogen Biology, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences & Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, China.


Human adenoviruses (HAdVs) are the etiologic agent of many human infectious diseases. The existence of at least 54 different serotypes of HAdVs has resulted in difficulties in clinical diagnosis. Acute respiratory tract disease (ARD) caused by some serotypes from B and C species is particularly serious. Hexon, the main coat protein of HAdV, contains the major serotype-specific B cell epitopes; however, few studies have addressed epitope mapping in most HAdV serotypes. In this study, we utilized a novel and rapid method for the modeling of homologous proteins based on the phylogenetic tree of protein families and built three-dimensional (3D) models of hexon proteins in B and C species HAdVs. Based on refined hexon structures, we used reverse evolutionary trace (RET) bioinformatics analysis combined with a specially designed hexon epitope screening algorithm to achieve high-throughput epitope mapping of all 13 hexon proteins in B and C species HAdVs. This study has demonstrated that all of the epitopes from the 13 hexon proteins are located in the proteins' tower regions; however, the exact number, location, and size of the epitopes differ among the HAdV serotypes.

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