Identification of immunodominant and conformational epitopes in the capsid protein of hepatitis E virus by using monoclonal antibodies

M. A. Riddell, F. Li, D. A. Anderson

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Antibody to the capsid (PORF2) protein of hepatitis E virus (HEV) is sufficient to confer immunity, but knowledge of B-cell epitopes in the intact capsid is limited. A panel of murine monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) was generated following immunization with recombinant ORF2.1 protein, representing the C-terminal 267 amino acids (aa) of the 660-aa capsid protein. Two MAbs reacted exclusively with the conformational ORF2.1 epitope (F. Li, J. Torresi, S. A. Locarnini, H. Zhuang, W. Zhu, X. Guo, and D. A. Anderson, J. Med. Virol. 52:289-300, 1997), while the remaining five demonstrated reactivity with epitopes in the regions aa 394 to 414, 414 to 434, and 434 to 457. The antigenic structures of both the ORF2.1 protein expressed in Escherichia coli and the virus-like particles (VLPs) expressed using the baculovirus system were examined by competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) using five of these MAbs and HEV patient sera. Despite the wide separation of epitopes within the primary sequence, all the MAbs demonstrated some degree of cross-inhibition with each other in ORF2.1 and/or VLP ELISAs, suggesting a complex antigenic structure. MAbs specific for the conformational ORF2.1 epitope and a linear epitope within aa 434 to 457 blocked convalescent patient antibody reactivity against VLPs by approximately 60 and 35%, respectively, while MAbs against epitopes within aa 394 to 414 and 414 to 434 were unable to block patient serum reactivity. These results suggest that sequences spanning aa 394 to 457 of the capsid protein participate in the formation of strongly immunodominant epitopes on the surface of HEV particles which may be important in immunity to HEV infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8011-8017
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2 Sep 2000
Externally publishedYes

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