Neutralizing antibodies against conserved domains of p15E of porcine endogenous retroviruses: basis for a vaccine for xenotransplantation?

Virology. 2003 Mar 15;307(2):406-13. doi: 10.1016/s0042-6822(02)00140-x.


Porcine xenotransplants may offer a potential solution to the problem posed by the limited supply of allotransplants. However, xenotransplantation may be associated with the risk of transmission of microorganisms, in particular of porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs) that are an integral part of the porcine genome and able to infect human cells in vitro. Possible strategies to prevent virus transmission include the development of PERV knockout animals or of effective vaccines. When antisera prepared against the main structural proteins of PERV were screened, a goat antiserum against the recombinant ectodomain of the transmembrane envelope protein p15E was found to neutralize PERV infectivity. Epitope mapping using overlapping peptides revealed two epitopes, E1 (GPQQLEK) and E2 (FEGWFN). These sequences are identical for all PERVs and are highly conserved among all gammaretroviruses. Interestingly, antibodies isolated from AIDS patients and specific for sequences of HIV-1 partially homologous with E2 (Mab4E10, LWNWFN) or located in close proximity to E2 (Mab2F5, ELDKWA) are known to neutralize several strains of HIV-1. It is the first report showing epitope mapping of gammaretrovirus-specific neutralizing antibodies and demonstrating similarity to corresponding epitopes in HIV. These domains of the transmembrane proteins of different retroviruses are an effective target for neutralizing antibodies and may be a useful antigen to create an antiretroviral vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology*
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Endogenous Retroviruses / immunology*
  • Epitope Mapping
  • Goats
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Immunization
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Neutralization Tests
  • Swine / virology*
  • Transplantation, Heterologous / immunology*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / immunology*
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immune Sera
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Viral Vaccines