Perez, J. T., Pham, A. M., Lorini, M. H., Chua, M. A., Steel, J. and tenOever, B. R.
Nat Biotechnol 02/06/2009
Influenza A virus leads to yearly epidemics and sporadic pandemics. Present prophylactic strategies focus on egg-grown, live, attenuated influenza vaccines (LAIVs), in which attenuation is generated by conferring temperature sensitivity onto the virus. Here we describe an alternative approach to attenuating influenza A virus based on microRNA-mediated gene silencing. By incorporating nonavian microRNA response elements (MREs) into the open-reading frame of the viral nucleoprotein, we generate reassortant LAIVs for H1N1 and H5N1 that are attenuated in mice but not in eggs. MRE-based LAIVs show a greater than two-log reduction in mortality compared with control viruses lacking MREs and elicit a diverse antibody response. This approach might be combined with existing LAIVs to increase attenuation and improve vaccine safety.