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J Virol. 1997 Apr;71(4):2772-8.

Genetically engineered live attenuated influenza A virus vaccine candidates.

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AVIRON, Mountain View, California 94043, USA.


We have generated new influenza A virus live attenuated vaccine candidates by site-directed mutagenesis and reverse genetics. By mutating specific amino acids in the PB2 polymerase subunit, two temperature-sensitive (ts) attenuated viruses were obtained. Both candidates have 38 degrees C shutoff temperatures in MDCK cells, are attenuated in the respiratory tracts of mice and ferrets, and have very low reactogenicity in ferrets. Infection of mice or ferrets with either mutant conferred significant protection from challenge with the homologous wild-type virus. Three tests for genetic stability were used to assess the propensity for reversion to virulence: 14 days of replication in nude mice, growth at 37 degrees C in tissue culture, and serial passage in ferrets. One candidate, which contains mutations intended to reduce the ability of PB2 to bind to cap structures, was stable in all three assays, whereas the second candidate, which contains mutations found only in other ts strains of influenza virus, lost its ts phenotype in the last two assays. This approach has therefore enabled the creation of live attenuated influenza A virus vaccine candidates suitable for human testing.

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