The molecular interaction between viral RNA and the cytosolic sensor RIG-I represents the initial trigger in the development of an effective immune response against infection with RNA viruses, resulting in innate immune activation and subsequent induction of adaptive responses. In the present study, the adjuvant properties of a sequence-optimized 5'-triphosphate-containing RNA (5'pppRNA) RIG-I agonist (termed M8) were examined in combination with influenza virus-like particles (VLP) (M8-VLP) expressing H5N1 influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) as immunogens. In combination with VLP, M8 increased the antibody response to VLP immunization, provided VLP antigen sparing, and protected mice from a lethal challenge with H5N1 influenza virus. M8-VLP immunization also led to long-term protective responses against influenza virus infection in mice. M8 adjuvantation of VLP increased endpoint and antibody titers and inhibited influenza virus replication in lungs compared with approved or experimental adjuvants alum, AddaVax, and poly(I·C). Uniquely, immunization with M8-VLP stimulated a TH1-biased CD4 T cell response, as determined by increased TH1 cytokine levels in CD4 T cells and increased IgG2 levels in sera. Collectively, these data demonstrate that a sequence-optimized, RIG-I-specific agonist is a potent adjuvant that can be utilized to increase the efficacy of influenza VLP vaccination and dramatically improve humoral and cellular mediated protective responses against influenza virus challenge.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science