BACKGROUND: 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.<br /><br />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 LD(50)) challenge of heterologous influenza virus A/PR/8/34.<br /><br />CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: 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.
Wang, W., Huang, B., Jiang, T., Wang, X., Qi, X., Gao, Y., … Ruan, L. (2012). Robust Immunity and Heterologous Protection against Influenza in Mice Elicited by a Novel Recombinant NP-M2e Fusion Protein Expressed in E. coli. PLoS ONE, 7(12). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0052488