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Rev Infect Dis. 1988 Nov-Dec;10 Suppl 4:S785-98.

Antigenic diversity of the glycoprotein and nucleocapsid proteins of rabies and rabies-related viruses: implications for epidemiology and control of rabies.

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Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104.


Rabies virus-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) have served to describe operationally the topography of the antigenic structure of the glycoprotein and nucleocapsid proteins of rabies virus. With the use of nucleocapsid protein-specific MAbs and cleavage fragments of the nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein, it has been possible to identify the chemical structure of two antigenic sites of the nucleoprotein and one antigenic site of the phosphoprotein. Antisera produced to synthetic peptides that make up the structure of these antigenic sites exhibited reactivities similar to those of MAbs. Analysis of a large number of isolates of rabies virus from different animal species and from different geographic locations revealed that rabies viruses differ considerably in their antigenic structure and can be identified according to their characteristic reactivity patterns with MAbs. Analysis of field virus isolates has also revealed that strains of rabies virus generally are associated with only one or a few major mammalian hosts within any given geographic area. Protection experiments in mice have not demonstrated correlations between protective activity and degree of antigenic difference between the vaccine strain and the challenge virus. Therefore, changes in antigenic structure, as determined by analysis with rabies virus-specific MAbs, cannot predict whether a given rabies vaccine will protect against a particular field virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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