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Virology. 1988 Dec;167(2):414-21.

Protection of chickens from lethal influenza infection by vaccinia-expressed hemagglutinin.

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Department of Virology/Molecular Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38101.


To study the immune response of the chicken to specific influenza proteins, we have constructed a recombinant vaccinia virus containing the hemagglutinin gene of influenza A/Turkey/Ireland/1378/83 (H5N8). In mammalian cell culture the hemagglutinin expressed by this recombinant virus was full-length, cleaved into HA1 and HA2 in the absence of trypsin, and transported to the cell surface, confirming that other virus products are not required for cleavage activation. Chickens inoculated through the wing web with the live recombinant virus produced extremely low levels of hemagglutination-inhibiting or infectivity-neutralizing antibody. However, they were protected from lethal H5 influenza virus challenge. Protection extended to the antigenically distinct virulent H5 viruses, Chicken/Pennsylvania/1370/83 and Chicken/Scotland/59. Chemically bursectomized vaccinated chickens were not protected, whereas normal chickens with very low antibody levels (less than 10) obtained by passive transfer were protected in a dose-dependent fashion. This indicates that despite the low antibody titers induced by vaccination, protection was mediated by antibody.

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