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J Virol. 2004 Dec;78(23):13037-45.

Immunogenicity and protection efficacy of replication-deficient influenza A viruses with altered NS1 genes.

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  • 1Institute of Applied Microbiology, Muthgasse 18B, A-1190 Vienna, Austria.


We explored the immunogenic properties of influenza A viruses with altered NS1 genes (NS1 mutant viruses). NS1 mutant viruses expressing NS1 proteins with an impaired RNA-binding function or insertion of a longer foreign sequence did not replicate in murine lungs but still were capable of inducing a Th1-type immune response resulting in significant titers of virus-specific serum and mucosal immunoglobulin G2 (IgG2) and IgA, but with lower titers of IgG1. In contrast, replicating viruses elicited high titers of serum and mucosal IgG1 but less serum IgA. Replication-deficient NS1 mutant viruses induced a rapid local release of proinflammatory cytokines such as interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta) and IL-6. Moreover, these viruses also elicited markedly higher levels of IFN-alpha/beta in serum than the wild-type virus. Comparable numbers of virus-specific primary CD8(+) T cells were determined in all of the groups of immunized mice. The most rapid onset of the recall CD8(+)-T-cell response upon the wild-type virus challenge was detected in mice primed with NS1 mutant viruses eliciting high levels of cytokines. It is noteworthy that there was one NS1 mutant virus encoding NS1 protein with a deletion of 40 amino acids predominantly in the RNA-binding domain that induced the highest levels of IFN-alpha/beta, IL-6 and IL-1beta after infection. Mice that were immunized with this virus were completely protected from the challenge infection. These findings indicate that a targeted modification of the RNA-binding domain of the NS1 protein is a valuable technique to generate replication-deficient, but immunogenic influenza virus vaccines.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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