1887

Abstract

Live-attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs) are now available for the prevention of influenza, with LAIV strains generally derived from serial passage in cultures or by reverse genetics (RG). The receptor-binding domain (RBD) in haemagglutinin (HA) of influenza virus is responsible for viral binding to the avian-type 2,3-α-linked or human-type 2,6-α-linked sialic acid receptor; however, the virulence determinants in the RBD of H5N1 virus remain largely unknown. In the present study, serial passage of H5N1 virus A/Vietnam/1194/2004 in Madin–Darby canine kidney cells resulted in the generation of adapted variants with large-plaque morphology, and genomic sequencing of selected variants revealed two specific amino acid substitutions (K193E and G225E) in the RBD. RG was used to generate H5N1 viruses containing either single or double substitutions in HA. The RG virus containing K193E and G225E mutations (rVN-K193E/G225E) demonstrated large-plaque morphology, enhanced replication and genetic stability after serial passage, without changing the receptor-binding preference. Importantly, virulence assessment demonstrated that rVN-K193E/G225E was significantly attenuated in mice. Microneutralization and haemagglutination inhibition assays demonstrated that immunization with rVN-K193E/G225E efficiently induced a robust antibody response against WT H5N1 virus in mice. Taken together, our experiments demonstrated that K193E and G225E mutations synergistically attenuated H5N1 virus without enhancing the receptor-binding avidity, and that the RG virus rVN-K193E/G225E represents a potential H5N1 LAIV strategy that deserves further development. These findings identify the RBD as a novel attenuation target for live vaccine development and highlight the complexity of RBD interactions.

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2015-09-01
2020-01-29
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