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Measuring Site-specific Glycosylation Similarity between Influenza a Virus Variants with Statistical Certainty.

Molecular & cellular proteomics : MCP (2020-07-01)
Deborah Chang, William E Hackett, Lei Zhong, Xiu-Feng Wan, Joseph Zaia
ABSTRACT

Influenza A virus (IAV) mutates rapidly, resulting in antigenic drift and poor year-to-year vaccine effectiveness. One challenge in designing effective vaccines is that genetic mutations frequently cause amino acid variations in IAV envelope protein hemagglutinin (HA) that create new N-glycosylation sequons; resulting N-glycans cause antigenic shielding, allowing viral escape from adaptive immune responses. Vaccine candidate strain selection currently involves correlating antigenicity with HA protein sequence among circulating strains, but quantitative comparison of site-specific glycosylation information may likely improve the ability to design vaccines with broader effectiveness against evolving strains. However, there is poor understanding of the influence of glycosylation on immunodominance, antigenicity, and immunogenicity of HA, and there are no well-tested methods for comparing glycosylation similarity among virus samples. Here, we present a method for statistically rigorous quantification of similarity between two related virus strains that considers the presence and abundance of glycopeptide glycoforms. We demonstrate the strength of our approach by determining that there was a quantifiable difference in glycosylation at the protein level between WT IAV HA from A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (SWZ13) and a mutant strain of SWZ13, even though no N-glycosylation sequons were changed. We determined site-specifically that WT and mutant HA have varying similarity at the glycosylation sites of the head domain, reflecting competing pressures to evade host immune response while retaining viral fitness. To our knowledge, our results are the first to quantify changes in glycosylation state that occur in related proteins of considerable glycan heterogeneity. Our results provide a method for understanding how changes in glycosylation state are correlated with variations in protein sequence, which is necessary for improving IAV vaccine strain selection. Understanding glycosylation will be especially important as we find new expression vectors for vaccine production, as glycosylation state depends greatly on the host species.

MATERIALS
Product Number
Brand
Product Description

Sigma-Aldrich
2,2,2-Trifluoroethanol, ReagentPlus®, ≥99%
Sigma-Aldrich
α1-Acid Glycoprotein from human plasma, ≥99% (agarose gel electrophoresis)