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Virus Res. 2001 Sep;77(1):89-96.

Molecular evolution of influenza A/H3N2 viruses in the province of Québec (Canada) during the 1997-2000 period.

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  • 1Infectious Disease Research Center, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire de Québec and Laval University, Pavillon, CHUL RC-709, 2705 blvd Laurier, Québec, GIV 4G2, Sainte-Foy, Canada.


In this study, we compared antigenic (hemagglutination inhibition (HI) assay) and molecular (sequencing of the hemagglutinin (HA1) gene) characterization of influenza isolates collected in the Province of Québec (Canada) during the last three flu seasons (1997-2000). Twenty-three isolates were tested by a standard HI assay and 37 by sequencing of the HA1 gene for their homology to the A/H3N2 vaccine strains A/Wuhan/359/95 (1997-1998) and A/Sydney/5/97 (1998-1999 and 1999-2000). By HI, two isolates were antigenically similar to A/Wuhan/359/95 (both from 1997 to 1998), 16 were similar to A/Sydney/5/97 (1997-2000) and no conclusions could be inferred for the other five isolates due to identical HI titers for the two vaccine strains (n=4) or insufficient viral titer (n=1). Sequence analysis revealed that four isolates from 1997 to 1998 were related to A/Wuhan/359/95 whereas the others (n=4) from 1997 to 1998, as well as all isolates from 1998 to 1999 (n=18) and 1999 to 2000 (n=11) were closer to A/Sydney/5/97. The mean number of amino acid differences for the 33 A/Sydney/5/97-like isolates compared with the homologous vaccine strain was 6.3 (1.9%), 9.2 (2.8%) and 13.6 (4.1%) for those collected in 1997-1998, 1998-1999, and 1999-2000, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis confirmed that a progressive drift occurred among our A/H3N2 influenza isolates over the last three flu seasons. Furthermore, it revealed that isolates collected during the last two flu seasons were in fact more related to A/Panama/2007/99 (2000-2001 vaccine strain) than to A/Sydney/5/97. Our studies suggest that molecular analysis of the HA1 gene should complement the HI assay for a more accurate analysis of influenza A virus drift.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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