Neutralizing epitopes present on the five serotypes of bluetongue virus (BTV) which have been isolated in the United States were investigated with a panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Neutralizing MAbs were raised against the U.S. prototype viruses of BTV serotypes 2, 10, 11, 13 and 17, and were reacted with each virus in both neutralization and immune precipitation assays. All MAbs neutralized and precipitated VP2 of the virus against which they were raised. Five MAbs raised against BTV-10 also precipitated VP2 of the prototype strain of BTV-17, and four of these MAbs neutralized BTV-17. To characterize further the neutralizing epitopes of BTV, the MAbs raised against BTV-10 and BTV-17 were reacted by immune precipitation and neutralization assays with four field strains each of BTV-17 and BTV-10 isolated from ruminants in the U.S. All MAbs raised against BTV-10 both precipitated VP2 and neutralized the four field isolates of BTV-10, whereas none of the MAbs raised against BTV-17 reacted with these viruses. By contrast, all seven MAbs raised against BTV-17 and four of the seven MAbs raised against BTV-10 precipitated VP2 of the four BTV-17 field isolates. Another MAb raised against BTV-10 precipitated VP2 of three of the four field isolates of BTV-17. Whereas neutralization of the BTV-17 field isolates by several MAbs was inconsistent, all 10 isolates of BTV-10 and BTV-17 were neutralized by three MAbs raised against BTV-10. Results of this and other studies indicate that multiple neutralizing epitopes exist on each serotype of BTV. Some of these epitopes are conserved whereas others apparently vary in their significance to the neutralization of individual field isolates of BTV-17 and perhaps other BTV serotypes. These findings have implications for the future development of efficacious subunit vaccines to prevent BTV infection of ruminants.


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