A newly identified hantavirus, tentatively called Four Corners virus (FCV), was found to be the aetiological agent of a 1993 outbreak of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS) in the southwestern United States. Immunodominant epitopes of 43 and 31 amino acids were identified in the nucleocapsid protein and G1 glycoprotein, respectively. The G1 genes of different hantaviruses are highly divergent, suggesting that geographically diverse FCVs might fail to cross-react owing to antigenic drift. We now show that the immunodominant epitope of G1 is conserved among 18 FCVs from a broad geographical area, despite extensive nucleotide sequence heterogeneity. Antibodies from all 45 HPS patients, separated by more than 3000 km were shown to be reactive with the dominant G1 epitope. Evidence for limited cross-reactivity between the G1 antigen of a novel hantavirus of the cotton rat and that of FCV is presented.


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