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Antiviral Res. 2019 Feb 6;164:12-22. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2019.02.004. [Epub ahead of print]

Highly immunogenic influenza virus-like particles containing B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) for multi-subtype vaccine development.

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Institute of Biotechnology, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.
National Institute of Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, National Health Research Institutes, Zhunan, Taiwan.
Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan.
Institute of Biotechnology, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan; Department of Medical Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. Electronic address:


Virus-like particle (VLP) technology is an attractive platform for the development of seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccines. Influenza VLPs can be obtained by the overexpression of HA, M1, NA, and/or M2 viral proteins in insect, mammalian, or plant cells. In this study, we reported to obtain highly immunogenic influenza VLPs by molecular incorporation with B-cell-activating factor (BAFF) or proliferation-inducing ligand (APRIL). Since BAFF and APRIL act as homotrimers to interact with their receptors, we engineered the VLPs by direct fusion of BAFF or APRIL to the transmembrane anchored domain of H5HA gene. Results showed that immunizations with the HA-transmembrane anchored BAFF- or APRIL-VLPs only formulated in alum but not MPL adjuvant elicited significantly higher IgG titers in sera. However, only the BAFF-VLPs formulated in alum adjuvant elicited more broadly neutralizing antibodies against the homologous and two heterologous H5N1 clade/subclade viruses and conferred protective immunity against live virus challenges. As the multi-subtype influenza vaccines containing a variety of HA subtypes can confer broader protective immunity, we also obtained multi-subtype H5H7 BAFF-VLPs and H1H5H7 BAFF-VLPs and demonstrated that these multi-subtype BAFF-VLPs were able to induce the production of neutralizing antibodies against multiple HA subtypes. Our findings provided useful information for the development of highly immunogenic, multi-subtype influenza VLP vaccines.


BAFF; Influenza VLP; Multi-subtype vaccines

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