1887

Abstract

Louping ill virus isolates from Great Britain, Ireland and Norway were compared antigenically by indirect immunofluorescence, haemagglutination-inhibition and neutralization tests using a panel of five envelope-specific and five non-structural protein NS1-specific monoclonal antibodies raised against louping ill virus. The viruses were grouped according to their reactivities with the antibodies. Group 1, members of which were isolated between 1931 and 1987, consisted of 13 viruses that reacted with all antibodies, whereas group 2, members of which were isolated after 1980, consisted of five viruses that were positive with only eight of the 10 monoclonal antibodies. The two monoclonal antibodies that did not react with the group 2 viruses are known to be neutralizing antibodies and the amino acids that they recognize in the viral envelope protein have been identified. We therefore refer to the group 2 viruses as naturally occurring monoclonal antibody escape variants. When compared with group 1 viruses, the escape variants showed reduced virulence for mice in terms of the time taken to kill and/or the proportion that died, following intraperitoneal inoculation. The nucleotide and deduced amino acid sequences of the envelope gene of one escape variant were compared with those of several group 1 viruses. A single amino acid substitution at residue 308 was detected in the envelope protein of the escape variant which corresponds precisely to the position in experimentally selected attenuated monoclonal antibody escape mutants. The importance and potential implications of these naturally occurring variants in louping ill epizootiology and vaccine-based control are discussed.

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1994-03-01
2021-10-18
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