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J Clin Microbiol. 1998 Jun;36(6):1588-94.

Differentiation and characterization of enteroviruses by computer-assisted viral protein fingerprinting.

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Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.


We have developed and standardized a computerized method for the typing and characterization of enteroviruses with radiolabeled viral protein fingerprints. Enteroviral proteins were radiolabeled with [35S]methionine during growth in cell culture and were then separated by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The dried gel was scanned, and from the resulting computer image (which resembled an autoradiogram) protein patterns were computer extracted and stored in a database. The enterovirus database contained community and prototype strains belonging to 20 different enteroviral serotypes. Each serotype has a discrete protein pattern, and the most important pattern differences for determining each type are in the region of the viral capsid proteins VP1, VP2, and VP3. When the database was challenged with 148 clinical enterovirus strains, 144 (97%) were correctly identified by using the correlation coefficient as a quantitative measure of relatedness between two patterns. This method can identify a type in a single test and represents a practical alternative to virus neutralization because it is less expensive, is much faster (3 rather than 10 days), and does not rely on any virus-specific reagents. The results also show that most of the strains currently isolated from the community have protein patterns different from those of their older prototype strains. Viral protein fingerprinting is an evolving, dynamic system for the typing and characterization of enteroviruses. The method is appropriate for use in clinical virology and reference laboratories for the typing of enteroviruses, for the study of the epidemiology of enteroviruses, and for surveillance of enteroviruses.

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