UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Animals; Antibodies, Viral; Antigen-Presenting Cells; CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes; CD8-Positive T-Lymphocytes; Cytokines; Disease Models, Animal; Drug Delivery Systems; Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay; Flow Cytometry; Hemagglutination Inhibition Tests; Humans; Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype; Influenza Vaccines; Influenza, Human; Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Knockout; Survival Analysis; Trisaccharides


Life Sciences | Medicine and Health Sciences


This study describes a method for increasing the immunogenicity of influenza virus vaccines by exploiting the natural anti-Gal antibody to effectively target vaccines to antigen-presenting cells (APC). This method is based on enzymatic engineering of carbohydrate chains on virus envelope hemagglutinin to carry the alpha-Gal epitope (Gal alpha 1-3Gal beta 1-4GlcNAc-R). This epitope interacts with anti-Gal, the most abundant antibody in humans (1% of immunoglobulins). Influenza virus vaccine expressing alpha-Gal epitopes is opsonized in situ by anti-Gal immunoglobulin G. The Fc portion of opsonizing anti-Gal interacts with Fc gamma receptors on APC and induces effective uptake of the vaccine virus by APC. APC internalizes the opsonized virus to transport it to draining lymph nodes for stimulation of influenza virus-specific T cells, thereby eliciting a protective immune response. The efficacy of such an influenza vaccine was demonstrated in alpha 1,3galactosyltransferase (alpha 1,3GT) knockout mice, which produce anti-Gal, using the influenza virus strain A/Puerto Rico/8/34-H1N1 (PR8). Synthesis of alpha-Gal epitopes on carbohydrate chains of PR8 virus (PR8(alpha gal)) was catalyzed by recombinant alpha1,3GT, the glycosylation enzyme that synthesizes alpha-Gal epitopes in cells of nonprimate mammals. Mice immunized with PR8(alpha gal) displayed much higher numbers of PR8-specific CD8(+) and CD4(+) T cells (determined by intracellular cytokine staining and enzyme-linked immunospot assay) and produced anti-PR8 antibodies with much higher titers than mice immunized with PR8 lacking alpha-Gal epitopes. Mice immunized with PR8(alpha gal) also displayed a much higher level of protection than PR8 immunized mice after being challenged with lethal doses of live PR8 virus. We suggest that a similar method for increasing immunogenicity may be applicable to avian influenza vaccines.

DOI of Published Version



J Virol. 2007 Sep;81(17):9131-41. Epub 2007 Jul 3. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of virology

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID




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