A rabbit antiserum prepared against disrupted sucrose-banded HIV-1 virus (strain FRE-3) reacted with antigens present in nuclear inclusions, pathognomonic for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV). This cross-reactivity was observed in autopsy specimens from individuals infected with CMV, in the presence or absence of co-infection with HIV-1. A Towbin immunoassay showed that the serum reacted specifically with the HCMV major capsid protein (MCP, 153 kDa), both in the nuclear fraction of infected cells and in virions. Direct evidence that these proteins share antigenic determinants was provided by the two-way cross-reactivity of affinity-selected antibodies (i.e., anti-MCP with HIV-1 gag precursor Pr55; anti-Pr55 with MCP). All four strains of HCMV tested showed this reactivity, but the counterpart proteins of simian CMV and herpes simplex virus type 1 did not, indicating that the determinant is not common to all herpes group viruses.
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