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Realised by ALMS™
developer of the AIDS-HIV Reference project
Abstract No.: JMS-Awards-3
Speaker: Bethny Morrissey
Session: JMS Awards
Presentation date: Thu, Aug 31, 2006
Presentation time: 13:30 – 15:00

In a Flap over the Flu - Rapid Proteomics Surveillance of the Influenza Virus

Bethny Morrissey1, Margaret Streamer1, Kevin M. Downard1

1 University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

Correspondence address: Bethny Morrissey, University of Sydney, Molecular, Maze Crescent, Sydney, NSW, 2006 Australia.

Keywords: Immunoassay; Immunology; Proteomic; Virus.

Novel aspect: First proteomics surveillance of structure and antigencity of influenza virus.


The influenza virus remains one of the leading causes of death in developed nations and has a major economic impact through work absences and loss of productivity. Approximately 5 million new cases of influenza are reported each year contributing to some 250,000 deaths worldwide. Of heightened concern is the emergence of new highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza strains and mutant forms in human for which there is presently no vaccination or drug treatment. The threat of a pandemic arising from this strain is significant with current conservative estimates of 2-7 million deaths worldwide.

To alleviate this pandemic threat and the current impact of the virus, highly effective vaccines and anti-virals are needed soon after a new strain emerges. Surveillance of the virus is central to these goals with present surveillance strategies involving hemagglutination inhibition, enzyme-linked and optical immunoassays to detect and subtype the virus with RT-PCR sequencing employed in the case of a genetically diverged form. Collectively this steps can take weeks to months to perform. In contrast, we have developed a proteomics approach in which the structure and antigenicity of the virus can be determined within hours.

Our initial studies demonstrated that it is possible to preserve1 and detect2 specific immune complexes on matrix-assisted laser desorption ionisation (MALDI) targets without any immobilisation, affinity capture or pre-purification.1,2 We have subsequently advanced this strategy where viral proteins are first separated on and isolated from polyacrylamide gels prior to immunochemical treatment and mass spectrometric analysis. This has led to the development of a rapid proteomics-based approach3 for screening the structure and antigenicity of emerging strains that has general applicability for the analysis of a wide range of other protein complexes.

This presentation will report our latest results applying this proteomics based method to characterise the antigenicity of emerging influenza strains within the Asia-Pacific region across various subtypes.

1. J. G. Kiselar and K. M. Downard, Biochemistry 43, 14185 (1999).
2. J. G. Kiselar and K. M. Downard, J. Am. Soc. Mass Spectrom. 11, 746 (2000).
3. B. Morrissey and K. M. Downard, Proteomics in press (2006).