In order to study an antigenic structure of the trans-activator protein encoded by human T-cell leukemia virus type-I (HTLV-I), tax1 antigen, we generated and characterized a panel of rat anti-tax1, monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) designated WATM-1, WATM-2, WATM-3, and WATM-4. These MAbs were derived from WKA rats immunized with HTLV-I-transformed (HTLV-I+) syngeneic T cells. Immunoblot assays showed that: (1) All the MAbs reacted with the tax1 antigen in HTLV-I+ cell lines and a recombinant tax1 antigen, PX141 (containing entire tax1 polypeptide); (2) WATM-3 and WATM-4, but not WATM-1 or WATM-2, reacted with a truncated tax1 antigen, XD59 (tax1 amino acids 180-338); (3) None of them reacted with another truncated tax1 antigen, XD128 (tax1 amino acids 1-47 and 286-353); and (4) each of the four MAbs had different reactivity with tax1-related antigens in the range 38-41 kDa expressed in simian cell lines infected with various HTLV-I-related simian retroviruses (STLV-I). None of the MAbs reacted with HTLV-II tax antigen. Human sera containing anti-tax1 antibodies interfered specifically with the antigen-specific binding of all the MAbs. These results suggest that the present rat MAbs are directed against various epitopes on the tax1 antigen. An antigenic structure of the tax1 antigen deduced from reactivity of a panel of anti-tax1 MAbs including the present rat MAbs is discussed.
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