Stiftung Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover (TiHo)

Impact of protein glycosylation on the design of viral vaccines

Glycans play crucial roles in various biological processes such as cell proliferation, cell-cell interactions, and immune responses. Since viruses co-opt cellular biosynthetic pathways, viral glycosylation mainly depends on the host cell glycosylation machinery. Consequently, several viruses exploit the cellular glycosylation pathway to their advantage. It was shown that viral glycosylation is strongly dependent on the host system selected for virus propagation and/or protein expression. Therefore, the use of different expression systems results in various glycoforms of viral glycoproteins that may differ in functional properties. These differences clearly illustrate that the choice of the expression system can be important, as the resulting glycosylation may influence immunological properties. In this review, we will first detail protein N- and O-glycosylation pathways and the resulting glycosylation patterns; we will then discuss different aspects of viral glycosylation in pathogenesis and in vaccine development; and finally, we will elaborate on how to harness viral glycosylation in order to optimize the design of viral vaccines. To this end, we will highlight specific examples to demonstrate how glycoengineering approaches and exploitation of different expression systems could pave the way towards better self-adjuvanted glycan-based viral vaccines.

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