Two new monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) derived from mice immunized with the Pitman-Moore (PM) strain of rabies virus were used to identify and characterize two unique antigenic determinants on the rabies virus glycoprotein. One of the determinants, which defined an additional antigenic site on the rabies virus glycoprotein, was delineated as a distinct epitope by the newly generated MAb, 6-15C4, in competitive binding studies and by comparative antigenic analysis of neutralization-resistant variant viruses. Both antigenic determinants were compared with the five previously described antigenic sites which bind virus-neutralizing antibodies on the challenge virus standard (CVS) and Evelyn-Rokitnicki-Abelseth (ERA) strain glycoproteins. The results presented in this communication show that the 6-15C4 epitope is the first epitope described in the rabies virus glycoprotein that does not depend on the native conformation of the glycoprotein for binding virus-neutralizing antibody. These data suggest that it may be possible to generate a synthetic peptide vaccine against rabies.

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Journal of General Virology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

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