We have re-evaluated the relationships among the polypeptides of eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) viruses using SDS-PAGE and peptide mapping of individual virion proteins. Four to five distinct polypeptide bands were detected upon SDS-PAGE analysis of viruses: the E1, E2 and C proteins normally associated with alphavirus virions, as well as an additional more rapidly-migrating E2-associated protein and a high (HMW) protein. In contrast with previous findings by others, the electrophoretic profiles of the virion proteins of EEE viruses displayed a marked correlation with serotype. The protein profiles of the 33 North American (NA)-serotype viruses examined were remarkably homogeneous, with variation detected only in the E1 protein of two isolates. In contrast, considerable heterogeneity was observed in the migration profiles of both the E1 and E2 glycoproteins of the 13 South American (SA)-type viruses examined. Peptide mapping of individual virion proteins using limited proteolysis with V8 protease confirmed that, in addition to the homogeneity evident among NA-type viruses and relative heterogeneity among SA-type viruses, the E1 and E2 proteins of NA- and SA-serotype viruses exhibited serotype-specific structural variation. The C protein was highly conserved among isolates of both virus serotypes. Endoglycosidase analyses of intact virions did not reveal substantial glycosylation differences between the glycoproteins of NA- and SA-serotype viruses. Both the HMW protein and the E2 protein (doublet) of EEE virus appeared to contain, at least in part, high-mannose type -linked oligosaccharides. No evidence of -linked glycans was found on either the E1 or the E2 glycoprotein. Despite the observed structural differences between proteins of NA- and SA-type viruses, Western blot analyses utilizing polyclonal antibodies indicated that immunoreactive epitopes appeared to be conserved.


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