Two distinct antigenic determinants of the major outer capsid protein, GP5, of five U.S. bluetongue viruses have been identified and mapped using monoclonal and oligoclonal antibodies. One antigenic site, identified by oligoclonal antibody AK-15, was found to be common and conserved in all five U.S. BTV serotypes. This linear epitope was located between amino acid residues 175 and 189 (ALQREAAERSEDEIK). The second determinant identified by monoclonal antibody 34.7 was present in BTV-2, -10, -11, and -17 but absent in BTV-13. The binding of this monoclonal antibody to GP5 could be blocked specifically by one of three short synthetic peptides located among amino acid residues 33-42 (KAAERFAESE), 159-168 (EKILKEEDSK), and 206-215 (EIERDGMQEE), indicating that this antigenic determinant is conformation-dependent. Oligoclonal antibody (AK-15) reacted with denatured GP5 immobilized on nitrocellulose membrane after Western transfer as well as with native GP5 present on the surface of purified BTV virions. Monoclonal antibody (34.7) reacted only with denatured GP5 but not native GP5 using an ELISA assay. However, these two antigenic epitopes alone did not elicit detectable neutralizing antibodies as determined by plaque reduction assay.
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