Chang, Deborah, et al. “Improving Statistical Certainty of Glycosylation Similarity between Influenza A Virus Variants Using Data-Independent Acquisition Mass Spectrometry.” Molecular & Cellular Proteomics 21.11 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mcpro.2022.100412
Amino acid sequences of immunodominant domains of hemagglutinin (HA) on the surface of influenza A virus (IAV) evolve rapidly, producing viral variants. HA mediates receptor recognition, binding and cell entry, and serves as the target for IAV vaccines. Glycosylation, a post-translational modification that places large branched polysaccharide molecules on proteins, can modulate the function of HA and shield antigenic regions allowing for viral evasion from immune responses. Our previous work showed that subtle changes in the HA protein sequence can have a measurable change in glycosylation. Thus, being able to quantitatively measure glycosylation changes in variants is critical for understanding how HA function may change throughout viral evolution. Moreover, understanding quantitatively how the choice of viral expression systems affects glycosylation can help in the process of vaccine design and manufacture. Although IAV vaccines are most commonly expressed in chicken eggs, cell-based vaccines have many advantages, and the adoption of more cell-based vaccines would be an important step in mitigating seasonal influenza and protecting against future pandemics. Here, we have investigated the use of data-independent acquisition (DIA) mass spectrometry for quantitative glycoproteomics. We found that DIA improved the sensitivity of glycopeptide detection for four variants of A/Switzerland/9715293/2013 (H3N2): WT and mutant, each expressed in embryonated chicken eggs and Madin–Darby canine kidney cells. We used the Tanimoto similarity metric to quantify changes in glycosylation between WT and mutant and between egg-expressed and cell-expressed virus. Our DIA site-specific glycosylation similarity comparison of WT and mutant expressed in eggs confirmed our previous analysis while achieving greater depth of coverage. We found that sequence variations and changing viral expression systems affected distinct glycosylation sites of HA. Our methods can be applied to track glycosylation changes in circulating IAV variants to bolster genomic surveillance already being done, for a more complete understanding of IAV evolution.