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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. Jan 1996; 40(1): 40–46.
PMCID: PMC163053

Generation and characterization of variants of NWS/G70C influenza virus after in vitro passage in 4-amino-Neu5Ac2en and 4-guanidino-Neu5Ac2en.

Abstract

The compounds 4-amino-Neu5Ac2en (5-acetylamino-2,6-anhydro-4-amino-3,4,5- trideoxy-D-glycerol-D-galacto-non-2-enoic acid) and 4-guanidino-Neu5Ac2en (5-acetylamino-2,6-anhydro-4-guanidino-3,4,5- trideoxy-D-glycerol-D-galacto-non-2-enoic acid), which selectively inhibit the influenza virus neuraminidase, have been tested in vitro for their ability to generate drug-resistant variants. NWS/G70C virus (H1N9) was cultured in each drug by limiting-dilution passaging. After five or six passages in either compound, there emerged viruses which had a reduced sensitivity to the inhibitors in cell culture. Variant viruses were up to 1,000-fold less sensitive in plaque assays, liquid culture, and a hemagglutination-elution assay. In addition, cross-resistance to both compounds was seen in all three assays. Some isolates demonstrated drug dependence with an increase in both size and number of plaques in a plaque assay and an increase in virus yield in liquid culture in the presence of inhibitors. No significant difference in neuraminidase enzyme activity was detected in vitro, and no sequence changes in the conserved sites of the neuraminidase were found. However, changes in conserved amino acids in the hemagglutinin were detected. These amino acids were associated with either the hemagglutinin receptor binding site, Thr-155, or the left edge of the receptor binding pocket, Val-223 and Arg-229. Hence, mutations at these sites could be expected to affect the affinity or specificity of the hemagglutinin binding. Compensating mutations resulting in a weakly binding hemagglutinin thus seem to be circumventing the inhibition of the neuraminidase by allowing the virus to be released from cells with less dependence on the neuraminidase.

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