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J Virol. 1991 Jan;65(1):389-95.

Distinct glycoprotein inhibitors of influenza A virus in different animal sera.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Disease, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee 38105.


Normal horse and guinea pig sera contain the glycoprotein inhibitor alpha 2-macroglobulin, which inhibits the infectivity and hemagglutinating activity of influenza A viruses of the H2 and H3 subtypes. In the current study, the presence of inhibitors of influenza A virus in pig and rabbit sera was investigated. Variants of influenza virus type A/Los Angeles/2/87(H3N2) that were resistant to horse, pig, or rabbit serum were isolated. Analysis of the variant viruses with anti-hemagglutinin (HA) monoclonal antibodies revealed that antigenic changes occurred with the development of serum inhibitor resistance. Characterization of the inhibitors in pig and rabbit sera by using periodate and receptor-destroying enzyme demonstrated that carbohydrate is an important constituent of the active portion of both inhibitor molecules and that sialic acid is involved in the interaction of the inhibitors with influenza virus HA. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the HA molecule revealed that the serum-resistant variants each acquired a different set of amino acid alterations. The multiply resistant variants maintained the original amino acid changes and acquired additional changes. Sequence modifications in the HA involved the conserved amino acids within the receptor binding site (RBS) at position 137 and the second-shell RBS residues at positions 155 and 186. Amino acid changes also occurred within antigenic site A (position 145) and directly behind the receptor binding pocket (position 220). Amino acid alterations resulted in the acquisition of a potential glycosylation site at position 128 and the loss of potential glycosylation sites at positions 246 and 248. The localization of the amino acid changes in HA1 to the region of the RBS supports the concept of serum inhibitors as receptor analogs. The unique set of mutations acquired by the serum inhibitor-resistant variants strongly suggests that horse, pig, and rabbit sera each contain distinct glycoprotein inhibitors of influenza A virus.

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