Volume 87 Issue 42 | p. 36 | Concentrates
Issue Date: October 19, 2009

Trimming Sugars Yields Better Flu Antibodies

Truncating sugar chains on coat protein may lead to a new vaccine for the virus
Department: Science & Technology
Keywords: influenza, hemagglutinin, glycosylation, glycan, vaccine
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Paring down the sugars (green) on influenza hemagglutinin (gray) may lead to a new vaccine for the virus.
Credit: PROC. NAT. ACAD. SCI. USA
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Paring down the sugars (green) on influenza hemagglutinin (gray) may lead to a new vaccine for the virus.
Credit: PROC. NAT. ACAD. SCI. USA

Truncating the sugar chains attached to an influenza protein leads to antibodies that can better bind to and neutralize the virus, reports a group led by Che Ma and Chi-Huey Wong at Academia Sinica, in Taiwan (Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0909696106). The team investigated the glycosylation of influenza hemagglutinin (HA), a glycoprotein on the viral coat that enables the virus to enter respiratory-tract cells by binding to glycan receptors. The team compared normally glycosylated HA with HA that was enzymatically pared down in three ways: to remove just the sialic acid groups from the sugar chains, to leave a high proportion of mannose groups, and to truncate the sugar chains so that just a single N-acetylglucosamine remained at each glycosylation site. The researchers found that antibodies raised against the N-acetylglucosamine-only protein showed better binding affinity and neutralization activity against the influenza virus than antibodies raised against fully glycosylated HA. The results may point toward a new strategy for making vaccines against influenza and other viruses, the authors say.

 
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © American Chemical Society

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