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Codon optimization of antigen coding sequences improves the immune potential of DNA vaccines against avian influenza virus H5N1 in mice and chickens

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  • Anna Stachyra
  • Patrycja Redkiewicz
  • Piotr Kosson
  • Anna Protasiuk
  • Anna Góra-Sochacka
  • Grzegorz Kudla
  • Agnieszka Sirko

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Original languageEnglish
Article number143
JournalVirology Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2016


Background: Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses are a serious threat to domestic poultry and can be a source of new human pandemic and annual influenza strains. Vaccination is the main strategy of protection against influenza, thus new generation vaccines, including DNA vaccines, are needed. One promising approach for enhancing the immunogenicity of a DNA vaccine is to maximize its expression in the immunized host. Methods: The immunogenicity of three variants of a DNA vaccine encoding hemagglutinin (HA) from the avian influenza virus A/swan/Poland/305-135V08/2006 (H5N1) was compared in two animal models, mice (BALB/c) and chickens (broilers and layers). One variant encoded the wild type HA while the other two encoded HA without proteolytic site between HA1 and HA2 subunits and differed in usage of synonymous codons. One of them was enriched for codons preferentially used in chicken genes, while in the other modified variant the third position of codons was occupied in almost 100 % by G or C nucleotides. Results: The variant of the DNA vaccine containing almost 100 % of the GC content in the third position of codons stimulated strongest immune response in two animal models, mice and chickens. These results indicate that such modification can improve not only gene expression but also immunogenicity of DNA vaccine. Conclusion: Enhancement of the GC content in the third position of the codon might be a good strategy for development of a variant of a DNA vaccine against influenza that could be highly effective in distant hosts, such as birds and mammals, including humans.

    Research areas

  • Chickens, DNA vaccine, GC content, H5N1, Influenza, Mice

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