We synthesized 46 sequential peptides 21 to 39 amino acids long over the structural protein of human T-cell leukemia virus type I (HTLV-I; the p19 and p24 gag protein and the gp46 and p20E env proteins) and tested their reactivities against antibodies in sera from HTLV-I healthy carriers and patients diagnosed as having human T-cell leukemia-lymphoma (ATLL) and myelopathy (HAM) by using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Of the 46 synthetic peptides, 18 peptides (2 corresponding to the p19 gag protein, 2 corresponding to the p24 gag protein, 8 corresponding to the gp46 env protein, and 6 corresponding to the p20E env protein) reacted with antibodies in the sera from HTLV-I healthy carriers. In particular, the peptides comprising amino acids 100 to 119 and 119 to 130 of the gag and 175 to 199, 213 to 236, 253 to 282, and 288 to 317 of the env proteins reacted with antibodies in sera from more than 30% of HTLV-I healthy carriers. These peptides also showed high reactivities to the antibodies in the sera from patients with ATLL and HAM. The results indicate that the predominant antigenic regions of the structural protein of HTLV-I were located at the C-terminal end of the p19 gag protein and the C-terminal half of the gp46 env protein, and the corresponding peptides proved to be useful antigens in detecting antibodies in the sera from individuals infected with HTLV-I
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