Current influenza vaccines require repeated administration for long-term protection. Failure to develop broad-spectrum vaccines may be attributed to the chronic presentation of hypervariable, immunodominant epitopes displayed on the viral surface that keep the immune response somewhat fixed and limited by suppression of broadly neutralizing, low-titered antibodies. To test this hypothesis, we have attempted to dampen the immunogenicity of variable epitopes and potential immunodominant domains of the A/Victoria/3/75 (H3N2) neuraminidase by site-directed mutagenesis. The results suggest that the neuraminidase structure is extremely flexible, since many substitution combinations were tolerated, and constitute proof-of-principle that the antigenicity of this protein can be modulated to a large extent. However, mice immunized with neuraminidase mutants containing multiple amino acid substitutions showed a reduced protection rate against heterologous virus in comparison with the reference groups.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Oct 1, 1998
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