We, for the first time, analyzed the binding motifs of immunoglobulin G (IgG) in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of human T lymphotropic virus type I (HTLV-I)-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP) patients with a phage library displaying 12-mer random peptides. As a result, the sequences highly homologous to HTLV-I gp46 192-199, 237-243 and 255-261 were the common linear epitopes of high affinity- IgG exclusively detected in both CSF and sera of the patients. These IgG responses were confirmed with corresponding HTLV-I peptides and serum antibody titers significantly correlated with disease severity or duration. Gp46 237-243 has not been detected in previous enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) studies using bound longer peptides, suggesting the usefulness of the phage display method.
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