We have previously used Epstein-Barr virus transformation to establish two clonal lymphoblastoid cell lines (48-1 and S-1) producing monoclonal antibodies against microtubular aggregates that appear in the hepatocytes of chimpanzees with non-A, non-B hepatitis (NANBH). To obtain additional antibodies directed against the same structure, the mouse hybridoma method was employed. Partially purified microtubular aggregates were prepared from liver homogenates of a chimpanzee with NANBH and used as the immunogen. Hybridoma cultures were first screened by radioimmunoassay against the partially purified antigen and secondly by immunofluorescence (IF) using liver sections from a chimpanzee with NANBH. Twenty-seven cultures exhibited positive IF reactions similar to those observed with the original antibodies, 48-1 and S-1, and were cloned by limiting dilution. The specificities of the monoclonal antibodies were tested by IF on liver biopsy specimens from chimpanzees with hepatitis A, B, D or NANBH and from normal chimpanzees. All the antibodies proved to be IgG. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed that all 27 antibodies bound to the same structure, the microtubular aggregates, in hepatocytes of chimpanzees with NANBH. To determine the size of the antigen polypeptide recognized by these antibodies, polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and Western blot assays were performed. Nine of the 27 antibodies specifically reacted with a single polypeptide of 44K (p44). The remaining 18 antibodies detected no antigen polypeptide on the filters. The anti-p44 antibodies were then tested using cross-competition assays with I-labelled antibodies, and were found to be classifiable into three groups. In addition, the results indicate that at least three distinct epitopes are located on p44: epitope A recognized by group 1, epitope B recognized by group 2 and epitope C recognized by group 3.


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