Introduction of cysteines in the stalk domain of recombinant influenza virus n1 neuraminidase enhances protein stability and immunogenicity in mice

Shirin Strohmeier, Juan Manuel Carreño, Ruhi Nichalle Brito, Florian Krammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Influenza virus surface glycoproteins represent the main targets of the immune system during infection and vaccination. Current influenza virus vaccines rely mostly on the hemagglutinin, requiring a close match between the vaccine and circulating strains. Recently, the neuraminidase (NA) has become an attractive target; however low immunogenicity and stability in vaccine preparations remain an obstacles. Here, we took advantage of the hypervariable stalk domain of the NA to introduce cysteines at different positions and to produce more stable multimeric forms of the protein. We generated 11 N1 constructs and characterized the proteins by performing sodium dodecyl sulfate polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and by testing their enzymatic activity and representation of antigenic epitopes. Moreover, we evaluated their potential to induce a protective immune response in vivo and characterized the polyclonal antibody responses of immunized mice. We observed that the introduction of cysteines at certain positions led to the formation of stable N1 dimers, which are capable of inducing a strong antibody response characterized by neuraminidase inhibiting activity and protection of mice from high dose viral challenge. Overall, our results provide evidence for the feasibility of introducing stalk modifications to enhance the stability and immunogenicity of NA-based recombinant antigens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number404
JournalVaccines
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2021

Keywords

  • Cysteine mutant
  • N1
  • Neuraminidase
  • Stalk domain
  • Vaccine

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