Proteins of purified virions of equine herpesvirus 4 (EHV-4; equine rhinopneumonitis), EHV-1 (equine abortion virus) and asinine herpesvirus 3 (AHV-3) were compared by metabolic labelling with [S]methionine or [C]glucosamine during growth of low passage virus in natural host cells (horse or donkey) and high passage virus in an appropriate cell line and analysis by SDS-PAGE. Approximately 25 different proteins ( 300K to 21.5K) were clearly resolved for each virus. The three viruses had similar profiles although significant differences were found. The proteins of the cell line-grown viruses were similar to their precursor viruses grown in natural host cells although some small differences, probably related to differences in glycosylation by the various cell types, were noted. Six or seven high abundance glycoproteins were identified for EHV-4, EHV-1 and AHV-3. The profile of seven glycoproteins of AHV-3 was more similar to EHV-1 than to EHV-4. Antigenic relationships of the proteins of the three viruses were examined using radioimmunoprecipitation (RIP) and Western blot analyses and a series of polyclonal sera raised in colostrum-deprived, specific pathogen-free (SPF) foals which were immunized with inactivated EHV-4 (foal 3) or EHV-1 (foal 1), challenged and cross-challenged; a polyclonal donkey serum to AHV-3 was also used. The ontogeny of the antibody response in the SPF foals was studied and the major immunogenic proteins, as determined by RIP, were correlated with previously determined serum neutralizing antibody titres. Antibodies were first detected 14 days after primary immunization and were directed to EHV-4 proteins of 113K, 75K and 56K or EHV-1 proteins of 110K, 78K, 60K and 58K. Antibodies to these same three (EHV-4) or four (EHV-1) proteins, together with antibodies to the major capsid protein and proteins of 67K (EHV-4) and 87K (EHV-1) were detected in response to primary infection (control foal 2) and these sera had high neutralizing antibody titres. The antigens of the three viruses were extensively cross-reactive with immunodominant proteins in the ranges 150K to 110K and 62K to 56K. However, cross-absorption of EHV-4 and EHV-1 SPF foal antisera indicated the presence of significant amounts of type-specific antibody.


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