Research Summary: Robust Immunity and Heterologous Protection against Influenza in Mice Elicited by a Novel Recombinant NP-M2e Fusion Protein Expressed in E. coli



The 23-amino acid extracellular domain of matrix 2 protein (M2e) and the internal nucleoprotein (NP) of influenza are highly conserved among viruses and thus are promising candidate antigens for the development of a universal influenza vaccine. Various M2e- or NP-based DNA or viral vector vaccines have been shown to have high immunogenicity; however, high cost, complicated immunization procedures, and vector-specific antibody responses have restricted their applications. Immunization with an NP–M2e fusion protein expressed in Escherichia coli may represent an alternative strategy for the development of a universal influenza vaccine.

Methodology/Principal Findings

cDNA encoding M2e was fused to the 3′ end of NP cDNA from influenza virus A/Beijing/30/95 (H3N2). The fusion protein (NM2e) was expressed in E. coli and isolated with 90% purity. Mice were immunized with recombinant NM2e protein along with aluminum hydroxide gel and/or CpG as adjuvant. NM2e plus aluminum hydroxide gel almost completely protected the mice against a lethal (20 LD50) challenge of heterologous influenza virus A/PR/8/34.


The NM2e fusion protein expressed in E. coli was highly immunogenic in mice. Immunization with NM2e formulated with aluminum hydroxide gel protected mice against a lethal dose of a heterologous influenza virus. Vaccination with recombinant NM2e fusion protein is a promising strategy for the development of a universal influenza vaccine.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 21-December-2012

Author(s): Wang W., Huang B., Jiang T., Wang X., Qi X., Gao Y., Tan W., Ruan L.


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