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Nat Med. 1999 Oct;5(10):1157-63.

A universal influenza A vaccine based on the extracellular domain of the M2 protein.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology, University of Ghent, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium.


The antigenic variation of influenza virus represents a major health problem. However, the extracellular domain of the minor, virus-coded M2 protein is nearly invariant in all influenza A strains. We genetically fused this M2 domain to the hepatitis B virus core (HBc) protein to create fusion gene coding for M2HBc; this gene was efficiently expressed in Escherichia coli. Intraperitoneal or intranasal administration of purified M2HBc particles to mice provided 90-100% protection against a lethal virus challenge. The protection was mediated by antibodies, as it was transferable by serum. The enhanced immunogenicity of the M2 extracellular domain exposed on HBc particles allows broad-spectrum, long-lasting protection against influenza A infections.

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