Using a solid-phase assay we have demonstrated specific competition between the preS1 sequence of hepatitis B virus and human IgA in their binding to isolated normal human liver plasma membranes, suggesting molecular mimicry. Monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies raised against virus and IgA epitopes were used to detect and map immunological cross-reactivity to the virus sequence involved in liver cell binding. These findings suggest the existence of a common receptor or of closely related receptors for the attachment of HBV and IgA to human liver cells.


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