Improvement of influenza vaccine strain A/Vietnam/1194/2004 (H5N1) growth with the neuraminidase packaging sequence from A/Puerto Rico/8/34.

State Key Laboratory of Respiratory Diseases, Institute of Respiratory Diseases, Guangzhou College of Medicine, Guangzhou, China.
Human vaccines & immunotherapeutics 02/2012; 8(2):252-9. DOI: 10.4161/hv.18468
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT H5N1 influenza candidate vaccine viruses were developed using the "6+2" approach. The hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes were derived from the popular H5N1 virus and the remaining six internal segments were derived from the A/Puerto Rico/8/34 strain (H1N1, PR8). However, some of these candidate strains have been reported to produce relatively low yields in vaccine manufacture. In this study, we found that the NA vRNA of the A/Vietnam/1194/2004 strain (H5N1, VN1194) was poorly packaged into recombinant viruses with a backbone of PR8 genes, which resulted in the formation of defective virions that did not include the NA vRNA in the genome. Using recombinant DNA techniques, we constructed a chimeric NA gene with the coding region of VN1194 NA flanked by the packaging signal sequence of the PR8 NA gene (41 bp form the 3' end of the vRNA and 67 bp from the 5' end). The packaging of the NA vRNA was restored to normal levels in the recombinant viruses containing the chimeric NA gene. Recombinant viruses containing the chimeric NA replicated much better in chicken embryonated eggs than viruses with the wild-type NA from VN1194. These findings suggest a novel strategy to improve in ovo growth of vaccine strains and to increase the number of vaccine doses available to save people if a pandemic were to occur.

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    ABSTRACT: Reverse genetics approaches can simplify and accelerate the process of vaccine manufacturing by combining the desired genome segments encoding the surface glycoproteins from influenza strains with genome segments (backbone segments) encoding internal and non-structural proteins from high-growth strains. We have developed three optimized high-growth backbones for use in producing vaccine seed viruses for group A influenza strains. Here we show that we can further enhance the productivity of our three optimized backbones by using chimeric hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genome segments containing terminal regions (non-coding regions (NCRs) and coding regions for the signal peptide (SP), transmembrane domain (TMD), and cytoplasmic domain (CT)) from two MDCK-adapted high growth strains (PR8x and Hes) and the sequences encoding the ectodomains of the A/Brisbane/10/10 (H1N1) HA and NA proteins. Viruses in which both the HA and NA genome segments had the high-growth terminal regions produced higher HA yields than viruses that contained one WT and one chimeric HA or NA genome segment. Studies on our best-performing backbone indicated that the increases in HA yield were also reflected in an increase in HA content in partially purified preparations. Our results show that using chimeric HA and NA segments with high-growth backbones are a viable strategy that could improve influenza vaccine manufacturing. Possible mechanisms for the enhancement of HA yield are discussed.
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