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J Virol. 1989 Jul;63(7):2941-50.

Neutralization epitopes of the F glycoprotein of respiratory syncytial virus: effect of mutation upon fusion function.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


Eighteen neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the fusion glycoprotein of the A2 strain of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) were used to construct a detailed topological and operational map of epitopes involved in neutralization and fusion. Competitive binding assays identified three nonoverlapping antigenic sites (A, B, and C) and one bridge site (AB). Thirteen MAb-resistant mutants (MARMs) were selected, and the neutralization patterns of the MAbs with either MARMs or RSV clinical strains identified a minimum of 16 epitopes. MARMs selected with antibodies to six of the site A and AB epitopes displayed a small-plaque phenotype, which is consistent with an alteration in a biologically active region of the F molecule. Analysis of MARMs also indicated that these neutralization epitopes occupy topographically distinct but conformationally interdependent regions with unique biological and immunological properties. Antigenic variation in F epitopes was examined by using 23 clinical isolates (18 subgroup A and 5 subgroup B) in cross-neutralization assays with the 18 anti-F MAbs. This analysis identified constant, variable, and hypervariable regions on the molecule and indicated that antigenic variation in the neutralization epitopes of the RSV F glycoprotein is the result of a noncumulative genetic heterogeneity. Of the 16 eptiopes, 8 were conserved on all or all but 1 of 23 subgroup A or subgroup B clinical isolates.

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