Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) particles are composed of a major polypeptide, p25, and additional polypeptides of higher m.w., namely p33 and p39, are variably present. All three polypeptides share the 226 amino acid residues of the S region: p33 consists of the p25 sequence plus an NH2-terminal 55 residues (pre-S(2], and p39 consists of the p33 sequence plus an NH2-terminal 108-119 residues (pre-S(1). In previous studies we demonstrated the influence of two Ir genes on the humoral and cellular immune responses to the S region and identified nonresponder phenotypes (H-2f,s). Subsequent studies showed that the immune response to the pre-S(2) region was regulated by H-2-linked genes independently of the S region response, such that immunization of S region nonresponder, pre-(S2) region responder mice (H-2s) with HBsAg/p33 circumvented nonresponse to the S region. In the present study, we have extended this analysis to the pre-S(1) region of HBsAg, with the following results: 1) and pre-S(1) region is immunogenic at the T and B cell levels; 2) anti-pre-S(1) specific antibody production is regulated by H-2-linked genes and can be independent of anti-S and anti-pre-S(2) antibody production; 3) immunization of H-2f strains with HBsAg/p39 particles containing the pre-S(1) region can bypass nonresponsiveness to the S and pre-S(2) regions in terms of antibody production; 4) two synthetic peptides, p32-53 and p94-117, define murine and human antibody binding sites on the pre-S(1) region, and p1-21 and p12-32 define additional human antibody binding sites; 5) pre-S(1)-specific T cells can be elicited in S and pre-S(2) region nonresponder mice (H-2f) and provide functional T cell help for S-pre-S(2)-, and pre-S(1)-specific antibody production; and 6) a T cell recognition site in the pre-S(1) region, p12-32 was identified. These results are relevant to HBV vaccine development, and possibly to viral clearance mechanisms, since the higher m.w. polypeptides are preferentially expressed on intact virions.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.