A series of synthetic peptides derived from the corresponding regions of the gag, pol, and env proteins of human T-cell lymphotropic virus types I (HTLV-I) and II (HTLV-II) were used in an enzyme immunoassay to map the immunodominant epitopes of HTLV. Serum specimens from 79 to 87 (91%) HTLV-I-infected patients reacted with the synthetic peptide Gag-1a (amino acids [a.a.] 102 to 117) derived from the C terminus of the p19(gag) protein of HTLV-I. Minimal cross-reactivity (11%) was observed with serum specimens from HTLV-II-infected patients. Peptide Pol-3, encoded by the pol region of HTLV-I (a.a. 487 to 502), reacted with serum specimens from both HTLV-I- and HTLV-II-infected patients (94 and 86%, respectively). The antibody levels to Pol-3 were significantly higher (P < 0.01) in patients with HTLV-I-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis than in either adult T-cell leukemia patients or HTLV-I-positive asymptomatic carriers. None of the other peptides studied demonstrated significant binding to serum specimens obtained from HTLV-I- or HTLV-II-infected individuals. While Gag-Ia did not react with serum specimens from normal controls, Pol-3 demonstrated some reaction with specimens from seronegative individuals (11.4%). The antibodies to Gag-Ia and Pol-3 in serum specimens from HTLV-I-infected patients could be specifically inhibited by the corresponding synthetic peptides and by a crude HTLV-I antigen preparation, indicating that these peptides mimic native epitopes present in HTLV-I proteins that are recognized by serum antibodies from HTLV-I- and -II-infected individuals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science