1887

Abstract

Influenza is a global health issue causing substantial health and economic burdens on affected populations. Routine, annual vaccination for influenza virus is recommended for all persons older than 6 months of age. The propagation of the influenza virus for vaccine production is predominantly through embryonated chicken eggs.

Many challenges face the propagation of the virus, including but not limited to low yields and lengthy production times. The development of a method to increase vaccine production in eggs or cell lines by suppressing cellular gene expression would be helpful to overcome some of the challenges facing influenza vaccine production.

This study aimed to increase influenza virus titres by using a peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PPMO), an antisense molecule, to suppress protein expression of the host genes interferon alpha (IFN-α) and interferon beta (IFN-β) in chicken embryo fibroblast (DF-1) cells.

The toxicity of PPMOs was evaluated by cytotoxicity assays, and their specificity to inhibit IFN-α and IFN-β proteins was measured by ELISA. We evaluated the potential of anti-IFN-α and anti-IFN-β PPMOs to reduce the antiviral proteins in influenza virus-infected DF-1 cells and compared the virus titres to untreated controls, nonsense-PPMO and JAK/STAT inhibitors. The effects of complementation and reconstitution of IFN-α and IFN-β proteins in PPMO-treated-infected cells were evaluated, and the virus titres were compared between treatment groups.

Suppression of IFN-α by PPMO resulted in significantly reduced levels of IFN-α protein in treated wells, as measured by ELISA and was shown to not have any cytotoxicity to DF-1 cells at the effective concentrations tested. Treatment of the self-directing PPMOs increased the ability of the influenza virus to replicate in DF-1 cells. Over a 2-log increase in viral production was observed in anti-IFN-α and IFN-β PPMO-treated wells compared to those of untreated controls at the initial viral input of 0.1 multiplicity of infection. The data from complementation and reconstitution of IFN-α and IFN-β proteins in PPMO-treated-infected cells was about 82 and 97% compared to the combined PPMO-treated but uncomplemented group and untreated group, respectively. There was a 0.5-log increase in virus titre when treated with anti-IFN-α and IFN-β PPMO compared to virus titre when treated with JAK/STAT inhibitors.

This study emphasizes the utility of PPMO in allowing cell cultures to produce increased levels of influenza for vaccine production or alternatively, as a screening tool to cheaply test targets prior to the development of permanent knockouts of host gene expression.

Funding
This study was supported by the:
  • Carlson College of Veterinary Medicine, Oregon State University (Award 7)
    • Principle Award Recipient: ManojK Pastey
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2024-02-14
2024-04-15
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