The major capsid protein (MCP) of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) was expressed in three portions as β-galactosidase fusion proteins, covering about 75% of the open reading frame (ORF). Fusion protein SH 1 contained nucleotides 101 to 1243 of the ORF, fusion protein FS 1 contained nucleotides 1944 to 3089 and fusion protein SS 1 covered nucleotides 2624 to 3793. The recombinant proteins were tested for their immunoreactivity with human sera. Fusion protein FS 1 was found to represent the immunodominant region. The recombinant proteins were used to generate polyvalent rabbit antisera to investigate cross-reactivities with the major capsid protein (VP5) of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). A monospecific antiserum raised against the fusion protein close to the N terminus of the MCP, as well as a monoclonal antibody and a monospecific rabbit antiserum directed against the viral MCP, cross-reacted with the VP5 as shown by immunoblotting and immunofluorescence. In order to detect common epitopes of the major capsid proteins of HCMV and HSV-1, the recombinant proteins were conjugated to CNBr-activated Sepharose and taken for purification of MCP antibodies from HCMV and HSV-1 seropositive individuals. Using this affinity chromatography method, cross-reactivity could be observed with HCMV- and HSV-positive human antisera in immunoblot experiments.


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