Two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) with molecular specificities for either the viral envelope glycoprotein (MAb 541) or the non-structural NS1 glycoprotein (MAb 109) were derived using West Nile and yellow fever (YF) viruses respectively. Their antigenic reactivity with a large number of flaviviruses was tested by indirect immunofluorescence microscopy. Both produced cytoplasmic fluorescent staining patterns with the homologous virus against which they were raised. Additionally, MAb 541 reacted with two substrains of YF virus whereas MAb 109 reacted with Bussuquara, YF and Ntaya viruses. These reactions were exclusively cytoplasmic. Two unexpected patterns of fluorescent labelling were observed when the antibodies were tested with Zika and Langat viruses. MAb 541 produced fluorescent staining of the nuclei, but not the cytoplasm, of cells infected with Zika virus and MAb 109 labelled only the nucleoli of cells infected with Langat virus. Double-labelling experiments showed that the nuclear fluorescent label was confined to virus-infected cells, and antibody absorption experiments with virus-infected cell packs confirmed the virus specificity of the nuclear antigen. The unexpected presence of virus-specific antigen in the nuclei or nucleoli of Zika or Langat virus-infected cells brings into question the role of the nucleus in flavivirus replication.


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