The Epstein-Barr virus nuclear antigen 2 (EBNA 2) shows serotype variation and two serologically distinct groups of viruses have been identified. These correspond to the two hybridization groups of viruses (A and B) that are distinguished by a highly substituted nucleic acid sequence in the middle of the open reading frame of the EBNA 2 gene. An epitope survey of the EBNA 2-coding region was carried out using a new prokaryotic expression vector tailored to express DNA fragments from the M13 sequencing libraries of the B95-8 (type A) and Jijoye (type B) prototype virus strains. Short overlapping stretches of EBNA 2 sequence were expressed as fusion proteins and used in Western blotting with human sera that contained serotype-specific antibodies. The type A-specific epitope was located between residues 378 and 435 of the B95-8 EBNA 2 polypeptide and the type B-specific epitope mapped between residues 390 and 454, at the carboxy terminus of the Jijoye polypeptide chain. All of the type-specific anti-EBNA 2 sera tested reacted with fusion proteins containing one or other of these epitopes. Despite the direct correlation between the hybridization and serological phenotypes, the type-specific epitopes appear to lie in the relatively conserved carboxy-terminal region of EBNA 2. There was no indication that the residues of the non-homologous region contributed to the formation of antibody-combining sites.

Keyword(s): EBNA 2 , epitope and nuclear angiten

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