Healthy carriers of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection exhibit a specific antibody response against all HCV antigens, which could play a role in disease control. Generation of panels of human antibodies may permit a thorough characterization of this response and further identify particular antibodies with potential clinical value. To this effect, we have established a human phage-display antibody library from a patient exhibiting a high antibody response against HCV antigens and no clinical symptoms of disease. This library was screened against a recombinant core antigen [amino acids (aa) 1–119] produced in .. Two recombinant Fab-carrying phages (rFabCs) were isolated and characterized. Both rFabC3 and rFabC14 recognize aa 1–48 on core antigen, but rFabC14 is competed out by a synthetic peptide, C (aa 1–20), at much lower concentrations than rFabC3. In order to identify more precisely the recognition sites of these antibodies, we produced soluble forms of the rFabs (sFabs), and used them to pan a random phage-display peptide library. A single peptide sequence, QLITKPL, was identified with sFabC3, while two equally represented sequences, HAFPHLH and SAPSSKN, were isolated using sFabC14. The QLITKPL sequence was partially localized between aa 8 and 14 of core protein, but no clear homology was found for the two sFabC14 peptides. However, we confirmed the specificity of these peptides by competition experiments with sFabC14.


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