Comparing influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) expression in three different baculovirus expression systems
In this study, the expression of HA, a key immunogenic protein of influenza viruses, in insect cells was compared using three baculovirus expression strategies: protein over-expression, surface (GP64) display, and capsid (VP39) display. Further, a recombinant virus expressing NA, another immunogenic influenza virus protein, was generated and fused to an HA epitope-tag. Western immunoblot using various antibodies, including those against HA, demonstrated the expression of HA and NA for all recombinant viruses. HA showed stronger expression when fused to the C-terminus of VP39 than the N-terminus, but unlike other expression methods, there was no observable cleavage of HA in VP39-displayed viruses. Cells infected with only over-expressed and surfaced-displayed HA were biologically active, and capable of hemadsorption and hemagglutination of chicken red blood cells. These results suggest that GP64 display or over-expression are the most efficacious modes of HA-expression for use as antigen to detect anti-HA antibodies in poultry.