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Vaccine. 2008 Dec 2;26(51):6550-4. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2008.09.050.

Quantitation of haemagglutinin in H5N1 influenza viruses reveals low haemagglutinin content of vaccine virus NIBRG-14 (H5N1).

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Division of Virology, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Blanche Lane, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 3QG, United Kingdom.


The assessment of potential candidate influenza vaccine viruses includes a number of factors. Growth properties of the virus and yield of antigen, specifically the haemagglutinin (HA), are of key importance. The recently developed H5N1 candidate vaccine virus NIBRG-14 (with HA and NA genes derived from the clade 1 virus A/Viet Nam/1194/2004 in an A/Puerto Rico/8/34 background) has been suggested to yield low amounts of antigen. While investigating the antigen yield of H5N1 vaccine viruses, we found that accurate quantitation of the HA content of some H5N1 viruses was difficult due to the migration characteristics of the proteins on SDS-PAGE gels. The HA1 and HA2 bands co-migrated with nucleoprotein (NP) and matrix protein (M1) respectively, preventing accurate analysis. We have developed an accurate way of quantitating HA from these H5N1 viruses by introducing a deglycosylation step to the standard protocol. Using this method, we showed reproducibly that the low yield of NIBRG-14 is, at least in part, due to a lower than usual content of HA in virus preparations. This was also found to be the case for the parent wild type A/Viet Nam/1194/2004 virus.

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