A radioimmunoprecipitation assay (RIPA) was used to study the serum antibody responses to individual polypeptides that developed after infection with viruses from human rotavirus subgroups I and II. Paired sera from eight children (1 to 8.5 years of age) were used in the study. Although all of the eight acute sera were negative by the complement fixation test, four of them were positive by RIPA, indicating a previous infection by rotavirus. A significant difference in the number of polypeptides immunoprecipitated was seen among the convalescent sera. The number of polypeptides immunoprecipitated was found to be related to previous infection experience. At most, ten different polypeptides were immunoprecipitated: seven structural polypeptides VP1 to VP7 and three non-structural polypeptides, NS, NS and NS. No sera immunoprecipitated VP8 or VP9. Acute sera positive by RIPA immunoprecipitated up to five polypeptides, VP1, VP2, VP3, VP4 and VP6. One of the non-structural proteins (NS) was found to be particularly immunogenic, since antibodies to this polypeptide were detected in several convalescent sera. Among the structural proteins VP2 and VP6 were found to be the two immunodominant polypeptides which were recognized by all convalescent sera. Only three convalescent sera immunoprecipitated VP7, the major type-specific antigen responsible for inducing neutralizing antibodies. Three of four originally seronegative children with no reactivity in the convalescent sera to VP7 developed neutralizing antibodies to a single serotype. One child developed antibodies to two serotypes.


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