A panel of nine independent mouse monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against penton base capsomers of subgenus C adenovirus serotypes 2 (Ad2) and 5 (Ad5) were isolated and characterized. Two of them (1D2 and 5A5), raised against Ad5 virion as the immunogen, bound to sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS)-resistant and subgenus C-specific epitopes that were not present in subgenus B Ad3 penton base. The 1D2 and 5A5 epitopes were mapped to two distinct regions that did not belong to the main variable region carrying the integrin-binding RGD motif at position 340. For the other seven MAbs, raised against recombinant Ad2 penton base protein (9S-pentamers), the epitopes were sensitive to SDS-denaturation, but reacted with native Ad2, Ad5, and Ad3 penton base. The epitopes recognized by the nine MAbs and by polyclonal antipenton base antibodies defined three major immunoreactive regions. One (I) mapped to the N-terminal domain (residues 116-165); the other two regions were almost symmetrically disposed on both sides of the integrin-binding RGD motif at position 340, within residues 248-270 (II), and within residues 368-427 (III) in the C-terminal domain. Region II overlapped the fiber-binding site in penton base (residues 254-260). None of the MAbs showed any detectable virus neutralization effect, but they all slightly augmented the efficiency of Ad-mediated gene transfer. Although none of their epitopes included the RGD-340 tripeptide, substitutions of the arginine residue in the RGD motif abolished the reactivity of six individual and distant epitopes, suggesting a major conformational role for the RGD-containing domain.