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Virus-like particles displaying H5, H7, H9 hemagglutinins and N1 neuraminidase elicit protective immunity to heterologous avian influenza viruses in chickens

Peter Pushko, Irina Tretyakova, Rachmat Hidajat, Aniko Zsak, Klaudia Chrzastek, Terrence M. Tumpey, Darrell R. Kapczynski
Virology 2017 v.501 pp. 176-182
Baculoviridae, Influenza A virus, antigens, antimicrobial properties, avian influenza, chickens, enzyme activity, hemagglutination, hemagglutinins, models, pathogenicity, sialidase, vaccines, virus-like particles, viruses, wild birds
Avian influenza (AI) viruses circulating in wild birds pose a serious threat to public health. Human and veterinary vaccines against AI subtypes are needed. Here we prepared triple-subtype VLPs that co-localized H5, H7 and H9 antigens derived from H5N1, H7N3 and H9N2 viruses. VLPs also contained influenza N1 neuraminidase and retroviral gag protein. The H5/H7/H9/N1/gag VLPs were prepared using baculovirus expression. Biochemical, functional and antigenic characteristics were determined including hemagglutination and neuraminidase enzyme activities. VLPs were further evaluated in a chicken AI challenge model for safety, immunogenicity and protective efficacy against heterologous AI viruses including H5N2, H7N3 and H9N2 subtypes. All vaccinated birds survived challenges with H5N2 and H7N3 highly pathogenic AI (HPAI) viruses, while all controls died. Immune response was also detectable after challenge with low pathogenicity AI (LPAI) H9N2 virus suggesting that H5/H7/H9/N1/gag VLPs represent a promising approach for the development of broadly protective AI vaccine.