A total of 38 neutralization escape mutant viruses have been selected from a cloned stock of human rhinovirus serotype 2 (HRV-2), using either of two monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) which recognize overlapping epitopes as judged by competition binding. The mutant viruses were analysed for their sensitivity to a panel of antiviral MAbs by antibody binding and virus neutralization assays. The position and nature of the selected mutations was determined by sequencing of the virus RNAs, and the location of the substituted amino acids on the three-dimensional structure of the virus predicted from the co-ordinates determined for the closely related HRV-1A. Escape from neutralization could be attributed to single amino acid substitutions in all but one case, which had a deletion of four amino acids. In all cases in which the same mutation was found more than once, these mutations were transitions. The ratio of transition to transversion mutations was about 5:1 overall or about 1·7:1 if only unique substitutions are considered. Each antibody selected for a discrete cluster of mutations and the area of these clusters was considerably less than that determined to be in contact with antibodies from X-ray crystallographic analyses of antibody/protein complexes. One mutation did not occur within the cluster of others selected with the same antibody. This substitution occurred at the base of a small loop and may cause conformational changes at the virus surface.


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