The sedimentation of radiolabelled 22 nm hepatitis B surface antigen particles was unaffected by treatment with either trypsin or SDS alone, but combined treatment disrupted the particulate nature of the radiolabelled material. Considerable antibody binding activity by the group-specific determinant () was preserved after combined SDS and trypsin treatment but was released from the bulk of the radiolabelled protein; gel filtration indicated an approximate mol. wt. of 5000 to 15000 for the released antibody binding material. This material was precipitated by concanavalin A, suggesting the presence of carbohydrate. Its serological activity was remarkably resistant to boiling and to proteolytic digestion, but was partially sensitive to treatment with 0.01 -periodate or with mixed carbohydrases and neuraminidase, and was greatly reduced by treatment with reducing agent. These data suggest that the stability of the determinant is due to the structure of the antibody binding site itself, rather than to involvement in the quaternary structure of the particle, and that intact disulphide bonds and carbohydrate, closely related to the antibody binding site, are necessary for the full expression of serological activity.


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