Dengue-2 virus strains from different locations were compared by T1-RNAse-resistant oligonucleotide fingerprinting and antigen signature analysis. The latter technique involved construction of radioimmunoassays using monoclonal antibodies that recognize nine distinct dengue-2 type-specific and flavivirus cross-reactive epitopes over a range of antigen concentrations. A statistical method was used to align unknown dengue antigen concentrations in different strain preparations, allowing comparison of binding profiles. Twentysix dengue-2 virus strains were separated into five distinct groups (topotypes) on the basis of unique RNA fingerprints. Two of these were represented by New Guinea C, the prototype virus isolated in 1944, and a Philippine strain; others were segregated on the basis of ≥80% shared oligonucleotides into similarity groups representing Burma/Thailand (8 strains), Puerto Rico (12 strains), and Jamaica (4 strains). Signature analysis of the prototype and four geographic topotype strains revealed striking antigenic differences. In contrast, a high degree of antigenic similarity was found among strains from the same geographic region. Variation between antigenically distinct strains occurred at both type-specific and group-reactive epitopes, but the widest differences appeared at group-reactive determinants. Signature analysis provides a more rapid and simpler means than RNA fingerprinting of monitoring changes or new introductions of dengue virus populations in a geographic region.
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