Mouse hybridomas producing antibodies against the structural proteins of strain WV4843, a subgroup B strain of respiratory syncytial (RS) virus, were produced by fusion of Sp2/0 myeloma cells with spleen cells from BALB/c mice immunized with purified preparations of the virus. After immunoprecipitation tests with [S]methionine-labelled extracellular virions, 35 clones found to produce antibodies against the fusion (F) protein, six against the membrane (M) protein, 21 against the nucleocapsid (NP) and eight against the phospho- (P) protein were further characterized. Immunoprecipitation with [H]glucosamine-labelled intracellular virus polypeptides detected nine hybridoma cell lines producing antibodies against the large glyco- (G) protein of the virus. By competitive binding ELISA tests with monoclonal antibodies against each of the structural components, a minimum of two, 24, four, 15 and three epitopes were detected on the G, F, M, NP and P proteins, respectively. Eleven monoclonal antibodies directed against nine epitopes of the F protein could neutralize the infectivity of the virus. In contrast, none of the nine monoclonal antibodies against G could neutralize the infectivity of the virus. In order to find out more about the antigenic relationship between human and bovine RS virus strains all monoclonal antibodies were reacted with subgroup A RS virus and also with three different strains of bovine RS virus and one strain of caprine RS virus in immunofluorescence, ELISA and immunoprecipitation tests. In addition, 31 previously developed monoclonal antibodies against subgroup A virus were reacted with the bovine and caprine strains. The numbers of monoclonal antibodies of subgroup B specific for the B type of the two human subgroups were 9/9, 3/35, 0/6, 0/21, 0/8, for the G, F, M, NP and P proteins, respectively. No antigenic variations were found between the three bovine strains and the caprine strain. They did not react with the nine monoclonal antibodies against the G protein of subgroup B, nor did they react with nine monoclonal antibodies against subgroup A. Most but not all of the monoclonal antibodies against the other structural proteins of the two human RS virus subgroups reacted with the four strains. All 11 monoclonal antibodies against the F protein of subgroup B that could neutralize the infectivity of subgroup B also reacted with the bovine strains and neutralized their infectivity. It is concluded that although the bovine strains share many epitopes with the two human subgroups, they are antigenically distinct from the human viruses.


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