Attenuated influenza virus construct with enhanced hemagglutinin protein expression

Jad Maamary, Natalie Pica, Alan Belicha-Villanueva, Yi Ying Chou, Florian Krammer, Qinshan Gao, Adolfo García-Sastre, Peter Palese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Influenza A viruses encoding an altered viral NS1 protein have emerged as promising live attenuated vaccine platforms. A carboxy-terminal truncation in the NS1 protein compromises its interferon antagonism activity, making these viruses attenuated in the host yet still able to induce protection from challenge with wild-type viruses. However, specific viral protein expression by NS1-truncated viruses is known to be decreased in infected cells. In this report, we show that recombinant H5N1 and H1N1 influenza viruses encoding a truncated NS1 protein expressed lower levels of hemagglutinin (HA) protein in infected cells than did wild-type viruses. This reduction in HA protein expression correlated with a reduction in HA mRNA levels in infected cells. NS1 truncation affected the expression of HA protein but not that of the nucleoprotein (NP). This segment specificity was mapped to the terminal sequences of their specific viral RNAs. Since the HA protein is the major immunogenic component in influenza virus vaccines, we sought to restore its expression levels in NS1-truncated viruses in order to improve their vaccine efficacy. For this purpose, we generated an NS1-truncated recombinant influenza A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (rPR8) virus carrying the G3A C8U "superpromoter"mutations in the HA genomic RNA segment. This strategy retained the attenuation properties of the recombinant virus but enhanced the expression level of HA protein in infected cells. Finally, mice immunized with rPR8 viruses encoding a truncated NS1 protein and carrying the G3A C8U mutations in the HA segment demonstrated enhanced protection from wildtype virus challenge over that for mice vaccinated with an rPR8 virus encoding the truncated NS1 protein alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5782-5790
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2012


Dive into the research topics of 'Attenuated influenza virus construct with enhanced hemagglutinin protein expression'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this