Monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) were produced against three serotypes of infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV): A1 (LWVRT 60-1, U.S.A.), A2 (d'Honnincthun, France) and A9 (Jasper, Canada). Each panel of MAbs (identified as LW, HF and JA) was analysed by ELISA with the 10 proposed serotypes of IPNV and their specificity defined by immunoprecipitation and Western immunoblotting analysis. A first group of MAbs, directed against the outer capsid protein VP2, reacted with linear or conformational epitopes. A second group of MAbs, directed against the internal protein VP3, reacted with linear epitopes. There was no relationship between the neutralizing property of anti-VP2 MAb and the configuration of the epitope that it recognized. The MAbs were used for antigenic characterization of serogroup A. Each panel of MAbs showed a characteristic pattern of reactivity. The European HF series was predominantly cross-reactive and detected conserved epitopes among the 10 serotypes for both VP2 and VP3. The North American LW and JA series identified a group of conserved epitopes on VP3 and new specific epitopes on VP2 and VP3. The higher variability observed for VP2 in comparison with VP3 is one example of how external pressures may promote natural selection of those epitopes required for virus survival. Our results are consistent with an ancestral relationship of the European to the North American strains, the latter having developed new antigenic determinants upon evolution in their new geographical location.


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