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Virology. 2003 Feb 1;306(1):18-24.

Multiple amino acid residues confer temperature sensitivity to human influenza virus vaccine strains (FluMist) derived from cold-adapted A/Ann Arbor/6/60.

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MedImmune Vaccines, Inc., 297 North Bernardo Avenue, Mountain View, CA 94043, USA.


FluMist influenza A vaccine strains contain the PB1, PB2, PA, NP, M, and NS gene segments of ca A/AA/6/60, the master donor virus-A strain. These gene segments impart the characteristic cold-adapted (ca), attenuated (att), and temperature-sensitive (ts) phenotypes to the vaccine strains. A plasmid-based reverse genetics system was used to create a series of recombinant hybrids between the isogenic non-ts wt A/Ann Arbor/6/60 and MDV-A strains to characterize the genetic basis of the ts phenotype, a critical, genetically stable, biological trait that contributes to the attenuation and safety of FluMist vaccines. PB1, PB2, and NP derived from MDV-A each expressed determinants of temperature sensitivity and the combination of all three gene segments was synergistic, resulting in expression of the characteristic MDV-A ts phenotype. Site-directed mutagenesis analysis mapped the MDV-A ts phenotype to the following four major loci: PB1(1195) (K391E), PB1(1766) (E581G), PB2(821) (N265S), and NP(146) (D34G). In addition, PB1(2005) (A661T) also contributed to the ts phenotype. The identification of multiple genetic loci that control the MDV-A ts phenotype provides a molecular basis for the observed genetic stability of FluMist vaccines.

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