We studied the reactivity of mouse monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against the hemocyanin from the Chilean marine gastropod Concholepas concholepas (CCH). This protein has been successfully used as a carrier to produce antibodies to haptens and peptides. All MAbs (13) belonging to IgG subclass exhibit dissociation constants (K(d)) from 1 x 10(-7) M to 1 x 10(-9) M. MAbs were characterized by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) using CCH treated with different procedures, including dissociation into CCH-A and CCH-B subunits, Western blot, enzymatic digestion, chemical deglycosylation, and thermal denaturation. MAbs were classified into three categories, according to subunit specificity by ELISA. The epitope distribution shows that CCH subunits display common epitopes (group I, 5 MAbs, 1H5, 2A8, 3A5, 3B3, and 3E3), as well as specific epitopes for CCH-A subunits (group II, 3 MAbs, 1B8, 4D8, and 8E5) and for CCH-B subunits (group III, 5 MAbs, 1A4, 1E4, 2H10, 3B7, and 7B4). The results can be summarized as follows: (1). six antibodies react with thermal denatured CCH, suggesting that they recognize linear epitopes, whereas seven recognize conformational epitopes; (2). oxidation of carbohydrate moieties does not affect the binding of the MAbs; (3). enzymatic digestion of CCH decreases the reactivity of all antibodies irrespective of the protease used (elastase or trypsin); (4). bringing together the above data, in addition to epitopic complementarity analysis, we identified 12 different epitopes on the CCH molecule recognized by these MAbs. The anti-CCH MAbs presented here can be useful tools to understand the subunit organization of the CCH and its complex structure, which can explain its immunogenic and immunostimulating properties in mammals.
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