Immunity to conserved viral antigens is an attractive approach to develop a universal vaccine against epidemic and pandemic influenza. A nucleoprotein (NP)-based vaccine has been explored and preliminary studies have shown promise. However, no study has explored the immunity and cross-protective efficacy of recombinant NP derived from Escherichia coli compared with recombinant vaccinia virus (Tiantan).
Recombinant NP protein (rNP) from influenza virus A/Jingke/30/95(H3N2) was obtained from E. coli and recombinant vaccinia virus (Tiantan) RVJ1175NP. Purified rNP without adjuvant and RVJ1175NP were used to immunize BALB/c mice intramuscularly. Humoral immune responses were detected by ELISA, while cell-mediated immune responses were measured by ex vivo IFN-γ ELISPOT and in vivo cytotoxicity assays. The cross-protective efficacy was assessed by a challenge with a heterosubtype of influenza virus A/PR/8/34(H1N1).
Our results demonstrate that a high dose (90 μg) of rNP induced NP-specific antibodies and T cell responses that were comparable with those of RVJ1175NP in mice. Importantly, the survival ratio (36, 73, and 78%) of the vaccinated mice after the influenza virus A/PR/8/34(H1N1) challenge was rNP vaccine dose-dependent (10, 30, and 90 μg, respectively), and no significant differences were observed between the rNP- and RVJ1175NP-immunized (91%) mice.
Influenza A virus NP derived from E. coli or recombinant vaccinia (Tiantan) virus elicited cross-protection against influenza virus in mice, and the immune response and protective efficacy of rNP were comparable to RVJ1175NP. These data provide a basis for the use of prokaryotically expressed NP as a candidate universal influenza vaccine.