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J Proteome Res. 2013 Aug 2;12(8):3707-20. doi: 10.1021/pr400329k. Epub 2013 Jul 24.

Comparative glycomics analysis of influenza Hemagglutinin (H5N1) produced in vaccine relevant cell platforms.

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Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Food and Drug Administration, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.


Hemagglutinin (HA) is the major antigen in influenza vaccines, and glycosylation is known to influence its antigenicity. Embryonated hen eggs are traditionally used for influenza vaccine production, but vaccines produced in mammalian and insect cells were recently licensed. This raises the concern that vaccines produced with different cell systems might not be equivalent due to differences in their glycosylation patterns. Thus, we developed an analytical method to monitor vaccine glycosylation through a combination of nanoLC/MS(E) and quantitative MALDI-TOF MS permethylation profiling. We then used this method to examine glycosylation of HAs from two different influenza H5N1 strains produced in five different platforms, including hen eggs, three different insect cell lines (High Five, expresSF+ and glycoengineered expresSF+), and a human cell line (HEK293). Our results demonstrated that (1) sequon utilization is not necessarily equivalent in different cell types, (2) there are quantitative and qualitative differences in the overall N-glycosylation patterns and structures produced by different cell types, (3) ∼20% of the N-glycans on the HAs produced by High Five cells are core α1,3-fucosylated structures, which may be allergenic in humans, and (4) our method can be used to monitor differences in glycosylation during the cellular glycoengineering stages of vaccine development.

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