Toward Animal Cell Culture-Based Influenza Vaccine Design: Viral Hemagglutinin N-Glycosylation Markedly Impacts Immunogenicity
The glycoproteins hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase are the major determinants of host range and tissue tropism of the influenza virus. HA is the most abundant protein in the virus particle membrane and represents the basis of most influenza vaccines. It has been reported that influenza virus HA N-glycosylation markedly depends on the host cell line used for virus production. However, little is known about how differential glycosylation affects immunogenicity of the viral proteins. This is of importance for virus propagation in chicken eggs as well as for innovative influenza vaccine production in mammalian cell lines. In this study, we investigated the impact of the differential N-glycosylation patterns of two influenza A virus PR/8/34 (H1N1) variants on immunogenicity. Madin-Darby canine kidney cell-derived and Vero cell-derived glycovariants were analyzed for immunogenicity in a TCR-HA transgenic mouse model. Next-generation pyrosequencing validated the congruence of the potential HA N-glycosylation sites as well as the presence of the HA peptide recognized by the TCR-HA transgenic T cells. We show that differential HA Nglycosylation markedly affected T cell activation and cytokine production in vitro and moderately influenced IL-2 production in vivo. Cocultivation assays indicated that the difference in immunogenicity was mediated by CD11c+ dendritic cells. Native virus deglycosylation by endo- and exoglycosidases dramatically reduced cytokine production by splenocytes in vitro and markedly decreased HA-specific Ab production in vivo. In conclusion, this study indicates a crucial importance of HA N-glycosylation for immunogenicity. Our findings have implications for cell line-based influenza vaccine design.
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