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Open Vet J. 2024; 14(1): 350-359

Expression of recombinant Florida clade 2 hemagglutinin in baculovirus expression system: A step for subunit vaccine development against H3N8 equine influenza virus

Ahmed S. Atwa, Lamis Gomaa, Wael Elmenofy, Haitham M. Amer, Basem M. Ahmed.

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Equine influenza (EI) is a transmissible viral respiratory sickness of the Equidae family. Two viruses, H7N7, and H3N8 caused EI, however, H7N7 has not been detected for decades. H3N8 has circulated and bifurcated into Eurasian and American lineages. The latter subsequently diversified into Kentucky, South America, and Florida sub-lineages. Florida clade 1 (FC1) and Florida clade 2 (FC2) strains are the only circulating equine influenza viruses in the meantime. Immunization is considered the major means for the prevention and control of EI infection. Using disparate technologies and platforms, several vaccines have been developed and commercialized. According to the recommendations of the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH), all commercial vaccines shall comprise representatives of both FC1 and FC2 strains. Unfortunately, most of the commercially available vaccines were not updated to incorporate a representative of FC2 strains.
The purpose of this research was to develop a new EI vaccine candidate that incorporates the hemagglutinin (HA) antigen from the currently circulating FC2.
In this study, we report the expression of the full-length recombinant HA gene of FC2 in the baculovirus expression system.
The HA recombinant protein has been proven to maintain its biological characteristics by hemadsorption and hemagglutination tests. Moreover, using a reference-specific serum, the specificity of the HA has been confirmed through the implementation of immunoperoxidase and western immunoblotting assays.
In conclusion, we report the expression of specific biologically active recombinant HA of FC2, which would act as a foundation for the generation of an updated EI subunit or virus vector vaccine candidates.

Key words: Baculovirus expression system, Equine influenza virus H3N8, Florida clade 2, Hemagglutinin, Recombinant vaccine

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