One HA stalk topping multiple heads as a novel influenza vaccine

Classic chimeric hemagglutinin (cHA) was designed to induce immune responses against the conserved stalk domain of HA. However, it is unclear whether combining more than one HA head domain onto one stalk domain is immunogenic and further induce immune responses against influenza viruses. Here, we constructed numerous novel cHAs comprising two or three fused head domains from different subtypes grafted onto one stalk domain, designated as cH1-H3, cH1-H7, cH1-H3-H7, and cH1-H7-H3. The three-dimensional structures of these novel cHAs were modeled using bioinformatics simulations. Structural analysis showed that the intact neutralizing epitopes were exposed in cH1-H7 and were predicted to be immunogenic. The immunogenicity of the cHAs constructs was evaluated in mice using a chimpanzee adenoviral vector (AdC68) vaccine platform. The results demonstrated that cH1-H7 expressed by AdC68 (AdC68-cH1-H7) induced the production of high levels of binding antibodies, neutralizing antibodies, and hemagglutinin inhibition antibodies against homologous pandemic H1N1, drifted seasonal H1N1, and H7N9 virus. Moreover, vaccinated mice were fully protected from a lethal challenge with the aforementioned influenza viruses. Hence, cH1-H7 cHAs with potent immunogenicity might be a potential novel vaccine to provide protection against different subtypes of influenza virus.