We have characterized and mapped variable and conserved neutralization epitopes of serogroup A strains of aquatic birnaviruses. Epitope mapping using monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) and -expressed deletion fragments of VP2 of the N1 strain of infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV) demonstrated that two variable epitopes, H8 and B9, depend on the variable region between amino acid 204–330. A conserved neutralization epitope, F2, was shown to depend on the same region as epitopes H8 and B9 but was additionally dependent on amino acids between 153–203. The neutralization epitopes H8, B9 and F2 were also shown to overlap by a competitive binding assay. One conserved neutralization epitope, AS-1, was not exposed on any of the recombinant VP2 deletion fragments and was therefore not possible to map. However, the MAbs AS-1 and F2 were partly competitive indicating that these epitopes are overlapping. All neutralization epitopes were independent of a conserved non-neutralization epitope, E4. Our results demonstrate that the central third of VP2 contains several partly overlapping neutralization epitopes, both variable and conserved among serogroup A strains of IPNV.


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