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Live attenuated swine influenza vaccine by reverse genetics



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Swine influenza (SI) is an acute, highly contagious, respiratory disease of swine. The causative agent of SI infections is swine influenza virus (SIV). SIV is a type A influenza virus classified into the Orthomyxoviridae family and is an enveloped particle with a genome composed of eight negative-orientated RNA segments. The mortality rate of influenza disease in pigs is generally low but morbidity can reach up to 100%. SI infections considerably contribute to respiratory disease in post-weaning pigs, causing significant economic losses due to an increase in the number of days pigs need to reach market weight. In addition, SI infections possess significant human public health concerns. Vaccination is the primary method for the prevention of SI. Currently available vaccines against SI are a combination of two inactivated antigenically distinct SIVs with oil adjuvant. The application of these vaccines induce mainly humoral immune responses. In contrast, application of live attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIV) mimics natural infection and induce strong, long-lived cell-mediated and humoral immunity. Furthermore, LAIV induces cross-protective immunity against different subtypes of influenza A viruses. LAIVs are developed for human and equine influenza viruses but at present no LAIV is available for SIVs. The critical step in influenza virus infection is an initial interaction between virus and cell surface carbohydrates followed by receptor-mediated endocytosis and fusion of the viral and endosomal membranes. Influenza virus entry into cells is mediated by the viral surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA). HA is primary synthesized as a polypeptide in HA0 form. In order to be infectious, HA0 must be cleaved by host proteases into HA1 and HA2 subunits. Therefore, this process is crucial determinant for virus pathogenicity. Our objective was to generate a live attenuated SIVs, particularly a viruses with a modified HA cleavage site resistant to activation during natural infection but which can be activated in vitro by an exogenous protease. Using the reverse genetics technique, we generated two mutant SIVs of strain A/SW/SK/18789/02 (H1N1) containing a modified cleavage site within their HA. Mutant A/SW/SK-R345V (R345V) contained a mutation within HA segment at amino acid (AA) position 345 from Arginine (Arg) to Valine (Val) while the second mutant, A/SW/SK-R345A (R345A) encoded Alanine (Ala) instead of Arginine (Arg) at position AA345 on HA. We showed that HA cleavage in both mutants was strictly dependent on the presence of human neutrophil elastase in tissue culture. These tissue-culture grown mutant SIVs showed similar growth properties in terms of plaque size and growth kinetics, compared to the wild type virus. Both mutant SIVs were able to preserve introduced mutations after multiple passages in tissue culture suggesting that AA substitution within HA cleavage site did not alter genetic stability in the presence of appropriate protease. Furthermore, these mutant SIVs were highly attenuated in pigs but capable of inducing significant cell-mediated and humoral immune responses after two vaccinations via intratracheal (IT) and intranasal (IN) routes. Immune responses induced by vaccination with elastase dependent SIV were sufficient to confer full protection against parental homologous and antigenic variant of H1N1 SIVs and partial protection from heterologous subtypic H3N2 after the challenge. Therefore, elastase-dependent mutant SIV could serve as live vaccine against antigenically distinct swine influenza viruses in pigs.



Reverse genetics, Swine influenza



Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Veterinary Microbiology


Veterinary Microbiology



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