Virology, Nebraska Center for


Date of this Version

May 2002


Published in JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, May 2002, p. 4241–4250 Vol. 76, No. 9. Copyright © 2002, American Society for Microbiology. Used by permission.


After infection of swine with porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV), there is a rapid rise of PRRSV-specific nonneutralizing antibodies (NNA), while neutralizing antibodies (NA) are detectable not sooner than 3 weeks later. To characterize neutralizing epitopes, we selected phages from a 12-mer phage display library using anti-PRRSV neutralizing monoclonal antibody (MAb) ISU25-C1. In addition, phages carrying peptides recognized by swine antibodies with high seroneutralizing titer were isolated after subtracting from the library those clones binding to swine anti-PRRSV serum with no neutralizing activity. Two epitopes located in the ectodomain of PRRSV GP5 were identified. One of these epitopes, which we named epitope B, was recognized both by neutralizing MAb ISU25-C1 and swine neutralizing serum (NS) but not by swine nonneutralizing serum (NNS), indicating that it is a neutralizing epitope. Epitope B is sequential, conserved among isolates, and not immunodominant. Antibodies directed against it are detected in serum late after infection. In contrast, the other epitope, which we named epitope A, is hypervariable and immunodominant. Antibodies against it appear early after infection with PRRSV. This epitope is recognized by swine NNA but is not recognized by either neutralizing MAb ISU25-C1 or swine NA, indicating that it is not involved in PRRSV neutralization. During infection with PRRSV, epitope A may act as a decoy, eliciting most of the antibodies directed to GP5 and delaying the induction of NA against epitope B for at least 3 weeks. These results are relevant to the design of vaccines against PRRSV.

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