The conformation of myelin encephalitogenic or basic protein (BP) was investigated with a double-antibody radioimmunoassay by studying the reaction of BP or its fragments with antibodies produced in two rabbits against peptide 43-88 linked to rabbit serum albumin. Both antisera reacted well with peptide 43-88 but showed little or no reaction with BP. Absorption of these antisera with a BP-immunoadsorbent did not remove the antibody activity against peptide 43-88. Within the region of peptide 43- 88 it was shown that peptides 68-88 and 79-88 gave an equivalent or better reaction than peptide 43-88, whereas peptides 43-67 and 64-73 had very little reactivity. In the BP fragments containing region 43-88, peptide 1-88 showed the best reactivity, peptide 20-166 showed minimal reactivity, while peptide 1-115 showed none.

These data document the internal position of at least a portion of peptide 43-88 and all of residues 79-88 in the BP molecule. The much greater reactivity of peptide 1-88 as compared to peptide 1-115 suggests that the region or a portion of the region of BP containing residues 89- 115 participates in the conformational alignment of BP restricting access to peptide 79-88. After absorption with BP, neither of the antisera prepared to peptide 43-88 reacted with PNS myelin in fixed tissue sections but continued to react with CNS myelin in similarly treated sections. The present findings demonstrate the need to consider the role of shielded antigenic determinants in the investigation of antigens or of immune responses.

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