Epitope-mapping on the Epstein-Barr virus major capsid protein using systematic synthesis of overlapping oligopeptides

J M Middeldorp, R H Meloen

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Systematic solid-phase synthesis of all possible overlapping nonapeptides of the 1381 amino acid sequence of the Epstein-Barr virus major capsid protein (EBV-MCP) was used to identify the position of linear antigen epitopes on this protein as recognised by human polyclonal antisera. Antisera were selected for reactivity with EBV-MCP on immunoblots. The results show that antibodies from different individual donors may recognise EBV-MCP through binding to a variety of different epitopes. These epitopes are localized at random over the protein backbone though some non-binding areas are also present. In addition, ten 'hot-spots' were identified containing closely-spaced reactive peptides (epitope-clusters) recognised by most (greater than or equal to 70%) individuals. No significant correlation was found between the actual location of these epitope-clusters and computer predictions using either hydrophilicity plots, secondary structure plots or a combination of (additional) parameters. Epitope-clusters generally were located in regions of indifferent or hydrophilic nature and mostly contained predicted beta-turn configurations. Only one epitope-cluster was located within a region of sequence homology with the MCPs of herpes simplex virus type 1 and varicella-zoster virus. The present study demonstrates the potential of using systematic peptide synthesis to define serologically relevant linear epitopes on large and relatively unexplored viral polypeptides.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)147-59
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Virological Methods
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1988

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