Haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS) is a serious and often fatal disease caused by viruses in the genus of the family . We expressed the entire coding region of the small (S) genome segments of three serologically distinct hantaviruses as soluble proteins in and evaluated the expressed nucleocapsid proteins (NPs) as antigens for diagnosis of HFRS. We also prepared novel diagnostic antigens by expressing truncated genes from which we deleted amino acid coding regions that were highly conserved among the three viruses. These antigens were analysed for their potential to detect and differentiate between antisera to various hantaviruses by ELISA. ELISA results obtained with HFRS patient sera or with sera from naturally or experimentally infected animals indicate that homologous antigens and antisera reacted to high titre. The truncated NPs were more specific than the complete NPs in distinguishing between possible aetiological agents of HFRS. Our findings demonstrate that prokaryotic expression of portions of the NPs of specific hantaviruses can be used to generate, readily and efficiently, large quantities of antigen that is both sensitive and specific in diagnostic assays for HFRS.


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