A pooled genome-wide screening strategy to identify and rank influenza host restriction factors in cell-based vaccine production platforms


Cell-derived influenza vaccines provide better protection and a host of other advantages compared to the egg-derived vaccines that currently dominate the market, but their widespread use is hampered by a lack of high yield, low cost production platforms. Identification and knockout of innate immune and metabolic restriction factors within relevant host cell lines used to grow the virus could offer a means to substantially increase vaccine yield. In this paper, we describe and validate a novel genome-wide pooled CRISPR/Cas9 screening strategy that incorporates a reporter virus and a FACS selection step to identify and rank restriction factors in a given vaccine production cell line. Using the HEK-293SF cell line and A/PuertoRico/8/1934 H1N1 influenza as a model, we identify 64 putative influenza restriction factors to direct the creation of high yield knockout cell lines. In addition, gene ontology and protein complex enrichment analysis of this list of putative restriction factors offers broader insights into the primary host cell determinants of viral yield in cell-based vaccine production systems. Overall, this work will advance efforts to address the public health burden posed by influenza.

Scientific Reports