Expression of Functional Recombinant Hemagglutinin and Neuraminidase Proteins From the Novel H7N9 Influenza Virus Using the Baculovirus Expression System

J Vis Exp. 2013 Nov 6;(81):e51112. doi: 10.3791/51112.


The baculovirus expression system is a powerful tool for expression of recombinant proteins. Here we use it to produce correctly folded and glycosylated versions of the influenza A virus surface glycoproteins - the hemagglutinin (HA) and the neuraminidase (NA). As an example, we chose the HA and NA proteins expressed by the novel H7N9 virus that recently emerged in China. However the protocol can be easily adapted for HA and NA proteins expressed by any other influenza A and B virus strains. Recombinant HA (rHA) and NA (rNA) proteins are important reagents for immunological assays such as ELISPOT and ELISA, and are also in wide use for vaccine standardization, antibody discovery, isolation and characterization. Furthermore, recombinant NA molecules can be used to screen for small molecule inhibitors and are useful for characterization of the enzymatic function of the NA, as well as its sensitivity to antivirals. Recombinant HA proteins are also being tested as experimental vaccines in animal models, and a vaccine based on recombinant HA was recently licensed by the FDA for use in humans. The method we describe here to produce these molecules is straight forward and can facilitate research in influenza laboratories, since it allows for production of large amounts of proteins fast and at a low cost. Although here we focus on influenza virus surface glycoproteins, this method can also be used to produce other viral and cellular surface proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Baculoviridae / genetics*
  • Baculoviridae / metabolism*
  • Hemagglutinins / biosynthesis*
  • Hemagglutinins / genetics
  • Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype / enzymology
  • Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype / genetics
  • Influenza A Virus, H7N9 Subtype / metabolism*
  • Neuraminidase / biosynthesis*
  • Neuraminidase / genetics
  • Plasmids / genetics
  • Recombinant Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Recombinant Proteins / genetics
  • Sf9 Cells / virology*


  • Hemagglutinins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Neuraminidase