Synthetic peptides that mimic antigenic determinants of viral proteins were used in vaccine studies of feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) infection. Immunoreactive epitopes on FeLV gp70 and p15E were predicted according to the criteria of their terminal position, hydrophilicity and the probability of them constituting helical structures. Nineteen peptides, consisting of seven to 19 amino acid residues, were synthesized, of which two peptides were derived from the FeLV subtype A, 16 from subtype B and one from subtype C. Rabbits were immunized with individual peptides coupled to keyhole limpet haemocyanin and the specificity and biological activities of these hyperimmune sera were determined by ELISA, Western blotting, virus neutralization and cytotoxicity assays. All sera reacted specifically with the immunizing peptide. Twelve of the 19 peptides induced antibodies against purified gp85 and antibodies to 11 peptides reacted with the whole virus. One peptide representing the carboxy terminus of the transmembrane protein p15E, and two peptides derived from the external glycoprotein gp70 elicited neutralizing antibodies, whereas antisera against four peptides enhanced virus infection . None of the peptide antisera mediated complement lysis of FeLV-infected cells.


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