Identification of a highly conserved and surface exposed B-cell epitope on the nucleoprotein of influenza A virus

J Med Virol. 2014 Jun;86(6):995-1002. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23812. Epub 2013 Oct 17.


Influenza virus still poses a major threat to human health worldwide. The nucleoprotein (NP) of influenza A virus plays an essential role in the viral replication and transcription and hence becomes a promising therapeutic target. NP forms a complicated conformation under native conditions and might denature when performing immunoassays such as western blot in the study of NP function. Therefore, it is useful to make an NP specific monoclonal antibody (mAb) that recognizes linear epitope instead of conformational epitope. In this study, a recombinant NP (rNP) of influenza A virus was over-expressed and used to generate a panel of anti-NP mAbs. These anti-NP mAbs were grouped into three classes based on their reactivity in Western blots. Only Class I mAb can react with linear rNP fragments. One of Class I mAb, 4D2, was characterized further by epitope mapping with a series of overlapping synthetic peptides, indicating that the 4D2 epitope is a surface exposed, linear epitope between amino acid residues 243 and 251. This epitope is highly conserved among different influenza A viruses with an identity of 98.4% (17,922/18,210). Western blot, co-immunoprecipitation, immunofluorescence, and immunohistochemistry experiments all indicated 4D2 is highly specific to NP of influenza A virus. The results demonstrated that 4D2 can be used as a research tool for functional study of NP in the replication cycle of influenza A virus. Further work is needed to understand the function and importance of this epitope.

Keywords: conserved epitope; influenza A virus; monoclonal antibody; nucleoprotein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / isolation & purification
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Blotting, Western
  • Conserved Sequence
  • Epitope Mapping*
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte / immunology*
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • Viral Core Proteins / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Epitopes, B-Lymphocyte
  • NP protein, Influenza A virus
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Viral Core Proteins