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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Aug 3;96(16):9363-7.

Molecular characterization of H9N2 influenza viruses: were they the donors of the "internal" genes of H5N1 viruses in Hong Kong?

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  • 1Department of Virology/Molecular Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, TN 38105, USA.

Abstract

The origin of the H5N1 influenza viruses that killed six of eighteen infected humans in 1997 and were highly pathogenic in chickens has not been resolved. These H5N1 viruses transmitted directly to humans from infected poultry. In the poultry markets in Hong Kong, both H5N1 and H9N2 influenza viruses were cocirculating, raising the possibility of genetic reassortment. Here we analyze the antigenic and genetic features of H9N2 influenza viruses with different epidemiological backgrounds. The results suggest that the H9N2 influenza viruses of domestic ducks have become established in the domestic poultry of Asia. Phylogenetic and antigenic analyses of the H9N2 viruses isolated from Hong Kong markets suggest three distinct sublineages. Among the chicken H9N2 viruses, six of the gene segments were apparently derived from an earlier chicken H9N2 virus isolated in China, whereas the PB1 and PB2 genes are closely related to those of the H5N1 viruses and a quail H9N2 virus-A/quail/Hong Kong/G1/97 (Qa/HK/G1/97)-suggesting that many of the 1997 chicken H9 isolates in the markets were reassortants. The similarity of the internal genes of Qa/HK/G1/97 virus to those of the H5N1 influenza viruses suggests that the quail virus may have been the internal gene donor. Our findings indicate that the human and poultry H5N1 influenza viruses in Hong Kong in 1997 were reassortants that obtained internal gene segments from Qa/HK/G1/97. However, we cannot be certain whether the replicate complex of H5N1 originated from Qa/HK/G1/97 or whether the reverse transfer occurred; the available evidence supports the former proposal.

PMID:
10430948
PMCID:
PMC17788
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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