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Virus Res. 1996 Nov;45(1):29-44.

Characterization of Tula virus antigenic determinants defined by monoclonal antibodies raised against baculovirus-expressed nucleocapsid protein.

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Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Stockholm, Sweden.


Tula virus was recently discovered by RT-PCR in lung samples from European common voles (Microtus arvalis and M. rossiaemeridionalis). Since virus isolation attempts had been unsuccessful, no antigen was available for analysis or for use in immunoassays. To circumvent this, complete Tula virus nucleocapsid protein (bac-TUL-N) was expressed in recombinant baculovirus. Rodent antibody end-point titers to bac-TUL-N and to truncated N fragments indicated that the NH2-terminal region is the major antigenic target and revealed a high cross-reactivity to Puumala virus N. Immunizations with crude bac-TUL-N preparations evoked high antibody responses to native hantavirus N in Balb/c mice and six monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) were generated. Epitope mapping of the Mabs, based on a competitive assay, reactivities to truncated recombinant N fragments, and reactivity patterns to different hantavirus strains, identified five recognition sites on Tula virus N. One epitope, which was identified as specific for Tula virus, was located in a region of N which is highly variable among the hantaviruses (aa 226-293), and four epitopes were mapped to the NH2-terminal region of the protein (aa 1-61). One epitope was expressed only in Tula and Prospect Hill viruses, one epitope in Tula, Prospect Hill, Khabarovsk, and Sin Nombre viruses, while two epitopes were conserved in all examined hantaviruses carried by rodents within the subfamily Arvicolinae of the Muridae family.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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