Hybridomas secreting monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the surface protein (SU) of feline immunodeficiency virus were generated. Four MAbs were obtained which could be assigned to two groups based on their neutralization and competition behaviour. Using SU protein fragments expressed in the antigenic site recognized by one of the MAbs (2H11) could be mapped to the c terminus. The neutralizing MAb 1E1 did not bind to any of the SU protein fragments and was directed to a conformational epitope. Binding of the MAb 1E1 to native SU protein could be blocked with a rabbit serum raised against the SU3 fragment (amino acids 361 to 445). These data indicate that at least part of the epitope is located on this SU3 domain. In competition experiments most sera of naturally infected cats were able to inhibit binding of the MAbs. This shows the conserved and immunodominant nature of the epitopes involved.


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