Expression of HA1 antigen of H5N1 influenza virus as a potent candidate for vaccine in bacterial system

Document Type: Full paper (Original article)


1 Ph.D. Student in Plant Biotechnology, Department of Biotechnology and Plant Breeding, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

2 Department of Biotechnology and Plant Breeding, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran

3 Influenza Research Lab, Pasteur Institute of Iran, Tehran, Iran

4 Razi Vaccine and Serum Research Institute, Mashhad, Iran


The impending influenza virus pandemic requires global vaccination to prevent large-scale mortality and morbidity, but traditional influenza virus vaccine production is too slow for rapid responses. In this study, bacterial system has been developed for expression and purification of properly folded HA1 antigen as a rapid response to emerging pandemic strains. Here, a recombinant H5N1 (A/Indonesia/05/05) hemagglutinin globular domain, the synthesized HA1 (1-320 amino acids), was amplified and cloned into pET-28a bacterial expression vector. Then, his-tagged HA1 protein was expressed in Escherichia coli BL21 under 1 mM IPTG induction. The protein expression was optimized under a time-course induction study and further purified using Ni-NTA chromatography. Migration size of protein was detected at 40 KDa by Western blot using anti-His tag monoclonal antibody and demonstrated no discrepancy compared to its calculated molecular weight. Since most antigenic sites are in the HA1 domain of HA, using this domain of influenza virus as antigen is of great importance in vaccine development. The ability of the antibody stimulation against HA1 expressed in bacterial cells is also examined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) analysis. Upon immunization of rabbits, oligomeric HA1 elicited potent neutralizing antibodies and high levels of serum antibody binding to HA1. Our findings suggest that HA1-based vaccines can be produced efficiently in bacterial systems and can be easily upscaled in response to a pandemic influenza virus threat.


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